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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Major clash in south Afghanistan
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Heavy fighting has taken place between US-led forces and Taleban militants in southern Afghanistan.

The US-led forces say they have killed 70 militants in Helmand province in the last two days, but the claim cannot be independently verified.

In Kabul, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of foreign troops, killing one soldier and wounding many others.

Violence has soared this year with more than 3,000 people killed as Afghan and foreign forces battle Taleban fighters.

Forces led by the US military carried out air strikes in Helmand on Friday morning, killing about 40 rebels and destroying one of the largest caches of weapons they have ever found, the US-led coalition said.

'Weapons cache'

With this, the number of militants killed in the last two days has gone up to more than 70, the coalition said.

There has been no independent confirmation of the casualty figures. But the local police officials and eyewitnesses told the BBC that the fighting had taken place and that the Taleban were hit quite hard.

"This was one of the largest caches of weapons found to date," news agency AFP quoted coalition spokesman Major Christopher Belcher as saying.

Afghan policeman near a vehicle which caught fire after a suicide attack on a convoy of French troops in  Kabul, Afghanistan
There have been a spate of suicide attacks in Kabul

"Several rooms were found, filled with small arms, explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and large-calibre ammunition."

Meanwhile, in Kabul, police said a French soldier was killed and several Afghans were injured when a suicide attacker blew himself up near a convoy of foreign troops.

"The foreign national killed is a French Isaf soldier. Some Afghan civilians have been wounded," AFP quoted Ali Shah Paktiawal, the head of the Kabul police force's anti-crime branch, as saying.

There is no confirmation from the Nato-led security force, Isaf, but the French military, which has about 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, confirmed that its soldiers were struck.

"One of them died," squadron leader Jean-Philippe Mouille was quoted by AFP as saying.

Eyewitnesses said the attack damaged a civilian bus and an Isaf vehicle overturned on impact.

"I heard a big blast followed by thick smoke. I laid down on the ground," eyewitness Gul Mohammad said.

The incident happened on a day when the United Nations is promoting its annual "day of peace" in Afghanistan.

The world body has organised a vaccination drive and events for families as part of the day.


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