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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Afghan clashes 'kill 40 Taleban'
British Isaf soldiers on patrol in Kabul
British soldiers are in the forefront of the fight against the Taleban
Nato-led forces in Afghanistan say they have killed 40 more Taleban rebels in an ongoing offensive in the south.

The latest clashes occurred in Kandahar province, bringing to about 300 the number of insurgents killed since the operation began a week ago, Nato says.

The fighting came as Nato generals met in Poland to consider calls to boost deployments in Afghanistan.

Generals urged member countries to send all the forces which they had promised, amid mounting casualties in the south.

The military chiefs were expected to call for about 2,500 extra troops to be committed.

We are currently at about 85% of the requirements and want the remainder
Gen Ray Henault
Nato military chief

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says this is far more than Nato officials were suggesting only a few days ago - and an indication of how much tougher the fight with the Taleban has become.

A number of Nato soldiers, most of them British or Canadian, have been killed in recent weeks.

Officials from Turkey, Germany and Italy have expressed reluctance to move their troops from reconstruction work in safer parts of Afghanistan to the troubled south, our correspondent adds.

Recent fighting has focused on Panjwayi district, where hundreds of Taleban fighters have threatened to attack nearby Kandahar city.

Nato says more than 40 Taleban were killed by air strikes and artillery barrages overnight. One Nato soldier also died in combat.

Reporters have been unable to visit the scene to verify casualty figures.

A Nato spokesman said a bomb-making factory had been found in the area, and that alliance forces had re-opened the main highway out of Kandahar to civilian traffic.

Suicide bomb

The aim of the Medusa offensive - which began on 2 September - is to drive the insurgents from their strongholds in Kandahar province.

Nato troop contributions
It is the biggest operation in the area since the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) took over southern Afghanistan from a US-led coalition at the end of July.

At the Warsaw meeting Nato military chief Gen Ray Henault urged member states to send "all the people and the capability" that had been signed up to.

"We are currently at about 85% of the requirements and want the remainder," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

There are more than 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan at the moment, but only around 2,000 of them currently under Nato command.

When Isaf takes control of the east as well, in the comings weeks, a large part of the US forces are due to transfer to Nato control.

As the meeting began on Friday, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a US Humvee vehicle in the capital, Kabul, killing at least 16 people including two US soldiers.

About 30 people were wounded in the blast, which occurred near the US embassy.

Security boost

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Taleban told an Afghan news agency that the rebel group was behind the attack.

There has been a series of suicide bombings across Afghanistan, but such a large explosion in the centre of Kabul was unusual.

Security in the capital has been boosted on Saturday, as Afghans prepared to mark the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Ahmad Shah Masood - the resistance leader under the Taleban regime.

He died in a suicide bombing in northern Afghanistan two days before the attacks on the US in September 2001.

Friday's car bomb attack took place near Masood Square - named after him.

Afghan army soldiers have set up checkpoints on roads leading into Kabul and have been searching cars.

The Taleban ruled Afghanistan until late 2001 when they were toppled by US-led forces in the wake of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.


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