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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Coalition 'retakes Taleban towns'
Map showing Helmand and Uruzgan
US-led and Afghan forces say they have retaken two Taleban-held towns in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.

Taleban fighters had seized the areas of Garmser and Naway-i-Barakazayi earlier in the week. Reports say many locals have fled the area.

In neighbouring Uruzgan province, one coalition soldier was killed and two others injured, the US military said.

Some 10,000 US-led troops are fighting the Taleban and their allies. Hundreds of people have been killed this year.

Meanwhile a statement purportedly issued by the Taleban threatened to intensify attacks.

"There will be a manifold increase in mujahideen operations in the coming few days... new fronts will be opened against the enemy," it said.


General Rahmatullah Roufi, an Afghan army commander, told the Associated Press that hundreds of troops had battled Taleban fighters before entering Garmser on Tuesday.

The Taleban appears to be bullying their way around some of the smaller towns in remote areas but they have no capability to lay claim to any piece of ground
Lt Col Paul Fitzpatrick

"Our troops launched an attack on Garmser and thank God we captured it," he said.

The operation in Garmser followed a similar operation to retake the town of Naway-i-Barakazayi.

Two Afghan soldiers were slightly hurt in the operations, the US-led coalition said.

US military spokesman Lt Col Paul Fitzpatrick said Afghan and coalition forces "skirmished" with Taleban fighters outside Garmser but met no resistance once inside.

"The Taleban appears to be bullying their way around some of the smaller towns in remote areas, but they have no capability to lay claim to any piece of ground," he said.

The two towns are both a few miles west of Lashkar Gah, where the British military operation centre is based.


The US-led coalition has said a massive military operation has seriously disrupted Taleban fighters in southern Afghanistan, particularly in the districts of Sangin, Musa Qala and Baghran in Helmand province.

"Afghan and coalition forces in the last week have killed numerous lower and mid-level commanders that the senior Taleban leadership rely on to intimidate villages, threaten elders and lead small bands of extremists to conduct attacks on Afghan and coalition forces," a statement on Tuesday said.

The statement also confirmed that a coalition soldier had died on Monday in neighbouring Uruzgan province. The nationality of the dead soldier has not yet been released.

The troops came under fire after destroying a truck that militants were loading in Tarin Kowt district.

Eleven other soldiers were wounded, the coalition said.

Al-Qaeda and Taleban militants have mounted a series of attacks in Afghanistan in recent months. Most of the violence has been in the south and east, in provinces bordering Pakistan.

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