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Coalition forces kill 50 in south Afghanistan battle: U.S.

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http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/07/23/coalition-battle.html

U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan's poppy-growing Helmand province killed more than 50 suspected Taliban militants in a two-day firefight, the coalition said Monday.

The coalition forces, backed by Afghan soldiers, counted "more than four dozen" insurgents killed during the battle in Helmand's Sangin district, the statement said.

Coalition aircraft dodged insurgent fire and dropped four bombs during the battle, which also involved militants attempting to kill coalition troops in suicide car-bomb attacks.

Eizathullah Khan, the district chief for Sangin, said Taliban fighters had launched a strike against a convoy of vehicles on Sunday afternoon. Khan said there were more than 30 Taliban dead or wounded after the attacks.

There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties from the battle, but those reports can sometimes take days to surface. The deaths of ordinary Afghans has been a major concern for U.S. and NATO forces this year, as Taliban militants often take shelter in civilian homes and fight in populated public areas.

U.S. Maj. Chris Belcher, the spokesman for the coalition, said that coalition and Afghan forces "only engaged military and enemy targets to minimize the potential of Afghan casualties."
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Belcher said the coalition forces realized the insurgents "tried to create some propaganda value by placing innocent civilians in harm's way."

Meanwhile in the southern Zabul province, Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior said Afghan police killed 14 "enemies" during a 12-hour standoff. Among those killed was Mohammad Hassan, the head of administrative affairs during the Taliban's rule, according to the minister.
With files from the Associated Press
 
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