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Southern Afghanistan remains highly volatile. Operation Dragon Strike has so far flushed militants out of Arghandab district, Afghan army Lt. Col. Nabeullah Khan said. It has also cleared the area of mines, a major concern for residents, he said.

NATO said Wednesday that it had detained several insurgents suspected of making bombs, and was searching for a Taliban leader believed to have led attacks on coalition forces in the area.

Associated Press writers Adam Goldman in Washington, Paisley Dodds in London and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.