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NATO Counter-Attack Kills Dozens of Insurgents in Afghan Battle

By VOA News
27 July 2008

Afghan officials say up to 70 militants have been killed in a battle with NATO and government forces in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.

The governor of Khost Province, Arsallah Jamal, says Afghan and NATO forces mounted a counterattack early Sunday after nearly 100 militants overwhelmed guards at a government center in the Spera district and killed two police officers.

The Afghan governor said troops on the ground called for air support, and heavy machine-gun fire from NATO's helicopter gunships killed scores of militants. Other insurgents fled toward the Pakistan border, about 15 kilometers away.

Reuters news agency says the Taliban denies any of its fighters was killed.

In another part of Khost, police say a suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday near a road construction crew, killing one person and wounding six.

The U.S.-led coalition also reported that American troops killed several militants in Paktia province on Saturday.

And in southern Helmand province, NATO troops killed four civilians and wounded three others when soldiers shot at a car that failed to stop at a checkpoint Saturday.

The United Nations says nearly 700 Afghan civilians have been killed this year in crossfire between Taliban insurgents and foreign forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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