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Page last updated at 08:50 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

'Militants die' in Afghan attacks

US troops in Afghanistan
The US has pledged to provide extra troops to contain the insurgency

International military forces in Afghanistan say they have killed 17 militants in two separate operations.

The US-led coalition force said it had carried out air and ground attacks, killing 11 militants in Sarobi, about 60km (40 miles) north-east of Kabul.

Separately, the Nato-led force said it had killed six militants in an air strike in eastern Afghanistan.

Fighting has intensified in Afghanistan in the past year with increased attacks by Taleban militants.

Ambush

In the Sarobi strike, the US military said it was targeting a commander wanted for trafficking weapons and fighters through the region.

A coalition statement that its soldiers killed two militants when they fired on approaching troops.

"Still receiving fire, coalition forces engaged the militants with close-air precision munitions and killed the remaining nine militants," the statement added.

Sorobi district is a well-known for its insurgent ties, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Kabul.

Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 French troops wounded in an ambush by Taleban fighters in Sarobi in August this year - it was one of the heaviest tolls suffered by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

Meanwhile, the Nato force said its aircraft "identified eight insurgents with weapons moving into fighting positions" in an unspecified area of eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

"The aircraft engaged the insurgents, killing six," it said in a statement.

Earlier this month, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates ordered the deployment of an additional combat aviation brigade to Afghanistan early next year.

The decision to send about 2,800 soldiers, equipped with both attack and transport helicopters, comes as part of an increased effort to counter the insurgency.

There are currently 31,000 US troops in the country, 14,000 of whom are part of the 51,000-strong Isaf.

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