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U S-led troops in air attack on Afghan militants

Written by: Staff
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Apr 14 (Reuters) -Six Taliban guerrillas were killed in an air strike by U S-led troops in eastern Afghanistan today after blasts elsewhere in the country killed three policement and wounded two British troops.

The air strike was carried out in Kunar province as part of Operation Lion launched on Wednesday to flush out militants from the area, officials said.

Afghanistan has seen a surge of attacks on Afghan and foreign forces since the Taliban announced last month they had launched a spring offensive.

Three policemen were killed today when a remote-control bomb hit their truck on a main road outside the southeastern town of Khost, said provincial police chief Mohammad Ayoub.

Three policemen were wounded, he said.

Earlier, two British soldiers from a NATO-led peacekeeping force were among three people wounded in suicide car-bomb attack in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of the southern province of Helmand.

None of the wounds were life threatening, a British spokeswoman said.

The attacker died as he rammed his car into a vehicle near the entrance of a base used by foreign troops, said senior provincial official Mahaiuddin, who uses one name. The Taliban telephoned Reuters to claim responsibility.

Last week, a suicide bomber wounded three Americans at the same place, and on Monday three British soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb in Helmand.

The Taliban have been running an insurgency since being ousted by U S-backed forces in late 2001.

Elsewhere today, foreign and Afghan forces, backed by air support, launched an offensive against Taliban fighters hiding in Maiwand district of Kandahar province, said Rahmatullah Raufi, a senior Afghan National Army commander.

Jet fighters pounded the area, and fierce fighting was underway. Fleeing villagers said they saw plumes of black smoke rising and the main highway linking Kandahar to western provinces was also cut.

At least on Afghan soldier was killed in the fighting, a provincial official said.

In central Uruzgan province, U S-led troops and Afghan soldiers killed two insurgents and captured two, who the U.S.

military said had been recruiting suicide bombers.

REUTERS CH BST2157

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