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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
'Forty killed' in Afghan clashes
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Nato-led and Afghan security forces killed 40 Taleban rebels in a raid in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the Afghan defence ministry has said.

An enemy base was "totally" destroyed in the fighting in Helmand province's Girishk district, the ministry said.

Earlier, Nato said 23 militants were killed in two clashes in other parts of the province over recent days.

Nato and Afghan forces trying to rid the south of Taleban rebels have met fierce resistance, correspondents say.

"As a result of Isaf [Nato's International Security Assistance Force] air bombardment and a joint ground operation, 40 enemies of our people were killed," the Afghan ministry said in a statement.

Afghan and foreign troops sustained no casualties in the raid, it added.

The number of reported deaths cannot be independently verified.

Nato-led and Afghan forces have encountered fierce resistance in Helmand province, says the BBC's Dan Isaacs in Kabul.

Regrouping

In a separate battle, Nato said eight insurgents were killed by helicopter cannon fire in Sangin district.

Nato also says it has wound down a three-day operation in Farah province in western Afghanistan.

Local officials had feared that militants who fled fighting in the south were regrouping in the west of the country.

On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ended a visit to Canada where he was attempting to shore up support for military and financial aid to Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in Afghanistan this year.


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