Thursday, August 28, 2008


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A four-day battle that began with an ambush on a joint U.S-Afghan patrol in southern Afghanistan has killed more than 100 militants, the coalition said Thursday.

Militants wielding rocket-propelled grenades, guns and mortars attacked the joint patrol in the southern province of Helmand multiple times starting Monday, the coalition said. The combined force called in fighter aircraft for support.

Capt. Scott Miller, a coalition spokesman, said he couldn’t provide further details, including a more precise location of the fighting, because the battle was continuing.

Related story: JAMES PALMER/Weak Afghan police threaten NATO plan

The coalition statement said no Afghan, coalition or civilian casualties had been reported.

The large death toll comes about one week after the U.S. said it killed 25 militants and five civilians during an operation in the Shindand district of Herat province. Afghan officials, however, say between 76 and 90 Afghan civilians were killed in that operation last Friday. The U.S. is investigating and plans to make its findings public.

Claims of large death tolls made either by international forces or Afghan officials are almost impossible to independently verify because of the remote and dangerous locations of the battles.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb killed a U.S. coalition soldier in southern Afghanistan on a patrol Wednesday. Neither the nationality of the soldier nor the location of the attack was released.

In the Nad Ali area of Helmand province, a fight between police and militants killed 14 insurgents late Wednesday, said Daud Ahmedi, the governor’s spokesman.

More than 3,700 people, mostly militants, have died in insurgency-related violence so far this year according to an Associated Press tally of figures provided by Afghan and Western officials.

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