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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 16:44 GMT
Nato offensive 'kills 30 Taleban'
At least 30 suspected Taleban fighters have been killed in a ground and air attack by Nato-led forces in southern Afghanistan, local police said.

Troops surrounded a rebel base in the Kajaki area of Helmand province and fought a five-hour battle, they said.

Nato confirmed the clash but has not commented on the casualties.

The attack comes ahead of a predicted surge in Taleban activity for the spring. Last year saw a record number of insurgent attacks.

'Spring offensive'

Helmand police chief Ghulam Nabi Mulakhel said 15 rebel fighters were wounded in addition to those killed.

Helmand has seen a number of fierce battles over the past year.

There were no casualties among Afghan and Nato soldiers in the latest offensive.

Mr Mulakhel said arms and ammunition were recovered, including heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

On Wednesday, Nato spokesman Brig Gen Richard Nugee said the organisation did not believe the Taleban were capable of a "spring offensive".

Gen Nugee said: "There will be an upward surge in violence as the weather gets better."

But he added: "We believe that they have been degraded and are starting to appear in less good condition than they started last year."

However, incoming US commander Maj Gen David Rodriguez has said he thinks suicide attacks this year will be even greater than last year's record 139.

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