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U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan kill 16 Taliban

RIA Novosti


KABUL, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - At least 16 Afghan insurgents were killed in two missile strikes using unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghan volatile Helmand Province, the U.S. military command in Kabul announced on Tuesday.

According to the statement, both attacks took place early Monday in the southern Helmand Province. A total of 13 militants were killed in the first attack on a house in Now Zad and another three insurgents in the second one in Nad Ali. The drones fired Hellfire antitank missiles.

The use of drones to target the militants was unusual for Afghanistan, where they are mostly employed for surveillance. The craft are more commonly used for airstrikes over the border in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Airborne attacks by foreign forces are controversial in Afghanistan, and on Tuesday in Helmand Province several people were short dead and more than a dozen injured during an anti-NATO demonstration.

Hundreds of Afghans took part protesting against the killings of civilians by NATO troops and demanding their withdrawal from the country.

On Monday the mayor of the city of Delaram, in Afghanistan's southwestern Nimruz Province, has been killed by unknown gunmen when he was returning home from his office by car.

Violence surged in the country in 2009, with the radical Islamic Taliban group staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside devices as part of its fight against U.S. and NATO troops.

In early December, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in the first part of 2010 to defeat the Taliban.

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