45 dead in Afghanistan fighting
* Five ‘important’ Taliban killed in ambush, says Afghan general
KABUL: Fresh fighting across Afghanistan left at least 45 people dead on Friday, including a British soldier.
Taliban militants ambushed a joint Afghan and NATO army convoy, sparking a firefight that killed seven Afghan soldiers and 20 militants, the defence ministry said.
Five “important” Taliban commanders were among the dead, including the rebel movement’s commander for western Badghis province, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told AFP.
“The militants ambushed our convoy,” said Azimi, adding that the army called in NATO warplanes to bomb militant positions after the attack.
“We called in friendly forces’ air power. Seven Afghan soldiers were martyred in the ambush and 20 enemy elements were also killed,” he said.
Eight Afghan army vehicles were destroyed, he said.
Elsewhere in western Afghanistan on Friday, tribal villagers repelled an attack by Taliban fighters in a battle that left five rebels and two civilians dead.
Dozens of Taliban attacked the village of Nal in the western province of Farah, but the locals resisted, provincial police chief Abdul Rehman Sarjang told AFP.
“Five Taliban and two villagers were killed in the clash. We have sent a delegation down there to investigate the incident,” he said.
Fighters for the Taliban, the Islamic extremists who governed Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, regularly try to overrun remote areas of the country and already control several districts in the south.
Meanwhile, a British soldier serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed while on patrol in southern Afghanistan’s flashpoint Helmand province.
Another British soldier was wounded in the incident, the British defence ministry said.
The soldiers were part of a patrol checking on a local irrigation project near Jusyalay, northeast of Sangin in the volatile southern province when they came under fire from Taliban fighters.
“It was during this engagement that two soldiers were injured. An emergency response helicopter was requested, but sadly one of the soldiers was pronounced dead at the scene,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The injuries sustained by the second soldier are not life threatening,” it added.
The US-led coalition earlier announced that air strikes and ground battles between soldiers and insurgents in Helmand on Thursday had killed at least 10 rebels, with many more believed dead or wounded.
Intense clashes have taken place in recent days in the south, a stronghold of the resurgent Taliban, who are seeking to overthrow the government of President Hamid Karzai. afp