[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Scores die in Nato Afghan clash
Nato forces in the Afghan city of Kandahar on 3 September 2006
The operation is the biggest since Nato took over in south Afghanistan
More than 200 Taleban fighters have been killed in a major offensive by Afghan and Nato forces in southern Afghanistan, Nato says.

Four Canadian soldiers with the Nato forces were also killed in Operation Medusa, which began on Saturday near the city of Kandahar.

A UK reconnaissance plane supporting the offensive crashed on Saturday, killing all 14 people on board.

Afghanistan is witnessing its bloodiest period since the Taleban fell in 2001.

Fierce clashes

A spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry, Gen Zahir Azimi, put the suspected Taleban losses at 89, and said a number of civilians had also died.

About 2,000 Nato and Afghan soldiers are involved in Operation Medusa, which is the biggest military operation in southern Afghanistan since the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) took over the area from a US-led coalition at the end of July.

Afghanistan map

It is concentrated on the Panjwayi area, about 35km (20 miles) west of Kandahar city, which has seen months of fighting.

"Reports indicate that more than 200 Taleban fighters have been killed since Operation Medusa began early Saturday morning," Nato said in a statement.

Canadian officials confirmed that four of their soldiers had also died in fighting on Sunday. Seven others in the Nato-led force were hurt, according to Isaf officials.

There has been fierce fighting. Ground troops have called in artillery and air strikes and the Taleban has responded with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

Nato spokesman Maj Scott Lundy said the coalition forces had gained ground and disrupted the Taleban command and control.

The operation had "special emphasis on driving out the insurgents so Afghans in Panjwayi district can return to their homes and orchards that sustained their livelihoods", a coalition spokesman said.


In the crash of the Nimrod MR2 aircraft, British authorities said they believed a technical fault was to blame.

Both they and Nato rejected Taleban claims to have shot down the aircraft.

Nato forces are guarding the crash site as the bodies of the dead are recovered and an investigation gets under way.

Much of the fighting between the Taleban and coalition forces in recent months has been concentrated in the south.

Canadian, Dutch and Danish troops are leading the latest offensive, but defence sources told the BBC there were also British troops on the ground and involved in the campaign, but held in reserve rather than engaged in front-line fighting.

Military operations in Afghanistan

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific