Wed, Aug 23, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Nine suspected militants slain in Helmand clash


British troops killed nine suspected insurgents as Taliban militants ambushed a Canadian convoy and wounded two soldiers in restive southern Afghanistan, officials said yesterday.

Meanwhile US forces hunting an al-Qaeda agent detained three men yesterday in the east.

The insurgents were killed when British troops targeted them with high explosive ammunition in Naw Zad district of the southern Helmand Province, said Major Toby Jackman, a spokesman for the NATO-led force.

The Canadian soldiers were wounded late Monday in the Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar Province, where 71 militants and five Afghan security forces were killed over the weekend.

The Canadians were wounded when insurgents ambushed their convoy in Panjwayi, said Major Quentin Innis. There were no reports of militant casualties.

Insurgents also ambushed a police patrol in Ghazni Province yesterday. wounding four officers including a district police chief, said Abdul Ali Fakuri, the provincial governor's spokesman.

In all, more than 100 people died -- including four US troops and one British soldier -- in several days of intense fighting centered on southern Afghanistan that threatened NATO efforts to stabilize the volatile region where holdouts from the toppled Taliban regime are escalating violent attacks.

But in a sign that the government has not closed off channels of communication with their foes, authorities in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar returned the bodies of 22 militants slain in Panjwayi to their families through tribal elders on Monday.

US soldiers detained three suspects during a pre-dawn raid on a compound in Khost Province's Paru Kheyl village "to capture a known al-Qaeda facilitator," the US military said in statement.

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