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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
'Taleban setback' in Afghanistan
US and Afghan forces have killed eight suspected Taleban fighters in the southern mountains of Afghanistan, US officials say.

Afghan soldiers
Two Afghan soldiers were reported to have been killed
Another 15 people have been taken prisoner following a two-day operation in the province of Kandahar.

The bombing campaign over the last two days took place near the town of Spin Boldak where officials say they discovered around 40 suspected Taleban.

Afghan and US officials are concerned that Taleban forces are regrouping after they were driven from power 18 months ago.

Heavy bombardment

"Eight enemy were killed in action and Afghan forces have taken 15 persons under control," US military spokesman, Colonel Roger King said on Friday.

He said around 35,000 pounds (16 tonnes) of ordnance and five types of aircraft were used on the rebel positions during the fighting on Wednesday and Thursday.

"They are no longer in the positions that they were holding. They have no longer access to supplies that were stockpiled on that mountain," Colonel King said.

A spokesman for the Kandahar authorities, Khalid Pashtun, said two government soldiers were killed in the fighting and another two were wounded.

Khan Mohammed, Afghan military commander, said on Thursday: "Six months ago their attacks were sporadic. But today there is a new organisation to the Taleban."

Kandahar province, where Spin Boldak is located, was a powerbase of the Taleban organisation until it was ousted from power in a US-led war in 2001.

Increased activity

Commander Mohammed accused Pakistan of aiding the Taleban's reformation and the director of foreign affairs in Spin Boldak, Khalid Khan said the organisation's former commanders were living safely "in hundreds of homes in Quetta" - the capital of the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Afghan interior minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali has said that increased Taleban activity may be linked to the US-led war in Iraq.

A senior Taleban commander has told the BBC the Taleban hopes to regain power in Afghanistan.

Coalition troops continue to patrol and search remote border areas where Taleban and their supporters are thought to be present.

Fresh fighting in Afghanistan
02 Apr 03  |  South Asia
Taleban 'aims to regain power'
28 Mar 03  |  South Asia

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