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NATO says scores Taliban killed in Afghan clash

Written by: Staff

KABUL, Sep 11 (Reuters) NATO and Afghan troops have killed scores more Taliban guerrillas as part of the alliance's biggest offensive against the resurgent militants in Afghanistan, the alliance said today.

The insurgents were killed yesterday in Zari and Panjwai districts of the southern province of Kandahar where NATO launched an offensive on September 2, NATO said in a statement.

''Further analysis of yesterday's battle damage assessment reports that 92 insurgents were killed. This figure is separate from the 94 insurgents killed in the other incident earlier Sunday,'' it said.

Afghanistan is seeing its worst spell of violence since US-led forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 after they refused to hand over al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

The latest deaths bring Taliban losses reported by NATO to more than 500 in the offensive in the two districts, about 25 km west of Kandahar city.

There has been intermittent heavy fighting in the area of grape farms and villages since May, when a large number of Taliban were found to have infiltrated.

No Taliban official could be contacted for immediate comment, but members of the Islamist group have rejected recent NATO reports of the extent of their losses.

Taliban officials have said most of those killed in the fighting were villagers.

NATO and Afghan officials said earlier there were some civilian casualties. NATO did not say on Monday if any civilians, or NATO or Afghan troops had been killed yesterday.

About 20 NATO troops have been killed since the beginning of the operation, including 14 British military personnel who died when their aircraft crashed.

NATO commanders say they have been facing heavier than expected resistance from the Taliban and have urged NATO members to send more soldiers and equipment to Afghanistan.

The alliance is expected to move later this year or early next year into the east of the country, where a separate US-led force is now in charge.


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