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Dozens killed in Afghan fighting

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Coalition troops have killed about 50 insurgents in operations across Afghanistan in recent days, US-led forces and Afghan officials say.

There are also reports of dozens of civilian casualties.

The US military said 38 Taleban fighters had been killed in Laghman and Farah provinces. Officials in Laghman said more than 20 civilians also died.

Afghan officials said 12 insurgents and 11 civilians died in Uruzgan province, while 19 civilians died in Helmand.

The issue of civilians being killed by coalition forces is highly controversial in Afghanistan and has done much damage to US-led efforts to win over local people in their battle against the Taleban.

Shooting

The US military says 32 insurgents were killed in Laghman province to the east of Kabul.

US troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan
The US recently reaffirmed its commitment to provide extra troops

The aim of the operation in Alishing district was to disrupt the Taleban's roadside bomb network, a US military statement said.

The US said one suspected militant had been detained and two large caches of weapons and explosives destroyed in the fighting in Laghman province.

"During the operation, as many as 75 armed militants exited their compounds and attempted to converge on the force," the US military statement said.

"Shooting from rooftops and alleyways, the militants engaged coalition forces with small-arms fire in the village."

When the fighting died down, US forces conducted a search of the compounds where they discovered caches of weapons and explosives, the statement added.

Some of this material was destroyed at the scene - leading to the collapse of at least one building, it said.

The Taleban and other insurgents are increasingly using improvised explosive devices to attack Afghan and international forces - often to deadly effect, the BBC's Martin Patience in Kabul says.

According to the American ambassador in Kabul, the number of roadside bomb attacks doubled in 2008.

Last year also saw the highest loss of life for international forces since military operations began in 2001, our correspondent says.

'Angry'

The deputy police chief of Uruzgan, Gulab Wardak told the BBC that the rockets were fired as Nato aircraft and troops on the ground were conducting operations on the outskirts of the town of Tarin Kowt.

He said that the attack happened as civilians were fleeing the town to escape Nato bombing and that eight women were killed. At least nine people were injured, including a child.

"We have launched an investigation to find out who fired the rocket - people are very angry about this incident,'' he said.

Nato forces said in a statement they were aware of an incident in the area on Monday, but confirmed only nine injured civilians.

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