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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
UK troops in first Taleban action
UK troops in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan
The UK took over peacekeeping operations this month
British troops in southern Afghanistan have fired their first shots against Taleban fighters.

The 16 Air Assault Brigade fired the "warning" while supporting Afghan national police pursuing insurgents, the Ministry of Defence said.

There is no word on Taleban casualties in the operation in north Helmand.

In a separate incident, Apache attack helicopters were used for the first time since the UK assumed coalition control of the province.

A Hellfire missile was a used to destroy a French vehicle, which had been hit in fighting with the Taleban and could not be recovered, said BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead.

More than 2,000 British troops are now in Helmand and the full complement will eventually number 3,300.

The soldiers replaced US forces as part of an expansion of peacekeeping operations by Nato at the start of the month.

An MoD spokesman said there were no UK casualties in the operation against insurgents at the weekend.

"A company of about nine troops fired warning shots against the enemy force, largely Taleban," he said.

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