Up To 50 'Taliban' Killed
In Heavy Afghan Fighting


(AFP) -- Afghan troops backed by US-led forces killed up to 50 suspected Taliban in ground and air raids in violence-wracked southeastern Afghanistan, a local official told AFP.
"In this operation 40 to 50 Taliban were killed and their bodies are still laying on the ground," a spokesman for the Zabul provincial government Ahmadullah Watan Dost told AFP by satellite telephone on Monday.
Some 1,000 Afghan soldiers supported by dozens of US-led coalition troops were on the first day of an anti-extremist operation in Zabul's Daychopan district, 300 kilometres (190 miles) southwest of Kabul.
The operation was executed against suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in Daychopan's Dozi mountains, Watan Dost said.
The bases were "smashed to dust" by coalition bombing, he said, adding that there were no reported Afghan or coalition casualties.
"In this operation coalition forces helped up with their close air support and they bombed the Taliban bases and smashed them to dust," he said.
Five suspected Taliban were also arrested.
The US military in Afghanistan were not immediately available for comment. It was impossible to independently verify details in the remote area.
The operation was launched after at least 14 people were killed in fighting over the weekend in Zabul and the central province of Uruzgan.
Afghanistan is in the grip of a wave of violence from suspected resurgent Taliban fighters, who are believed to be regrouping in neighbouring Pakistan's remote border tribal regions.
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