Thu, Oct 26, 2006 - Page 6 News List

NATO kills 38 militants in southern Afghanistan


A UK Navy chinock helicopter flies low over the sands of Afghanistan's Helmand Province during NATO operations on Monday.


NATO soldiers killed 38 Taliban rebels in strikes against militants returning to infiltrate an area of southern Afghanistan that has seen previous heavy clashes, the force said yesterday.

Afghan authorities in the Zhari and Panjwayi districts of southern Kandahar Province -- the birthplace of the fundamentalist Taliban movement -- confirmed there had been heavy bombardments late on Tuesday.

"In two separate engagements we killed 38 insurgents yesterday [Tuesday] through very careful targeting against specific groups of insurgents trying to infiltrate back into Zhari and Panjwayi," International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Major Luke Knittig said. "We had eyes on them and we knew what they were up to and took action."

The area, which is about 35km west of Kandahar, was the focus of nearly two weeks of intense fighting last month as part of Operation Medusa, ISAF's largest anti-Taliban offensive.

NATO said afterwards that its soldiers and the Afghan troops involved in the operation had handed the Taliban their heaviest defeat since the hardliners were driven from power in late 2001.

ISAF says it is now rebuilding the war damage and setting in place reconstruction projects.

"We are putting in place economic development on the ground in follow up to Operation Medusa," Knittig said.

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