Coalition kills several militants in Afghanistan

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Kabul, Nov 15: US-led coalition forces killed several militants in clashes in southern Afghanistan, the US military said today, as a British soldier was killed in an explosion in the troubled region.

Taliban insurgents suffer heavy casualties whenever they engage with foreign troops, but there are few signs they are suffering from a shortage of recruits. Both the number of engagements and their geographical range has gone up this year.

The latest clashes came in the Garmser district of Helmand province, where mostly British and US troops are battling to extend Afghan government authority to a string of towns along the fertile Helmand River that cuts through the barren desert.

''During a search of compounds in the district, coalition forces encountered armed militants in multiple buildings on the compounds,'' a U.S. military statement said.

''Coalition forces responded with a combination of small-arms fire; accurate, conventional munitions and precision-guided munitions killing several militants during the engagement,'' the statement added.

Precision munitions normally refer to weapons launched in air strikes, but can be ground-launched weaponry.

''Precision munitions were also used to kill several other militants who were attempting to use a tree line outside one of the compounds as cover to engage Coalition forces,'' it said.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

In a separate incident, a British soldier was killed in an explosion in the Sangin district, further north in Helmand province yesterday, the British Defence Ministry said.

Afghanistan has seen a sharp rise in violence in the last two years since the hardline Islamist Taliban relaunched their insurgency to oust the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the more than 50,000 foreign troops from the country.

More than 7,000 people have been killed in that period, the bloodiest since Afghan and US-led forces toppled the Taliban for refusing to give up al Qaeda leaders in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.


REUTERS
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