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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 March 2008, 12:54 GMT
US-Afghan forces kill insurgents
US soldier in Afghanistan (file)
The US troops called in air strikes to target the insurgents
American forces in Afghanistan say more than a dozen insurgents have been killed in a joint US-Afghan operation in the southern province of Uruzgan.

The forces say they were returning fire after coming under ambush.

In a separate incident, the US-led coalition force said two of its soldiers had died when their vehicle struck a mine in Kandahar province.

Violent attacks are multiplying in the south and east as the winter snows melt, says the BBC's Alastair Leithead.

'Weapons seized'

There is some confusion over the count of casualties from the clash in Uruzgan province, which neighbours Helmand in the restive south of the country.

Map

Earlier, the Afghan defence ministry said "dozens" of enemy fighters had been killed, including the man commanding the group.

It said more than 40 weapons, including rockets and heavy machine gins, had been recovered following the operation.

But a statement from US forces said they were attacked by small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades, and that in a return of fire "more than a dozen" insurgents had been killed.

Uruzgan province is under the command of Dutch forces but has a strong American presence. The US troops, working under Operation Enduring Freedom and outside the remit of Nato, brought in air strikes to target the insurgents.

Mine attack

It is impossible independently to verify the number of fighters killed, our correspondent says.

Elsewhere in the south, two soldiers from the US-led coalition force died after their vehicle hit a mine, the US military said in a statement.

The incident took place on a busy road west of Kandahar city, as the soldiers were conducting a security patrol with Afghan troops.

The soldiers' nationalities have not yet been released.

The US-led coalition force remains a separate operation from the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), to which nearly 40 countries have contributed troops.






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