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Coalition forces surround militants as Afghans flee

Thu., Nov. 1, 2007

ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan – Afghan civilians piled belongings onto trucks Wednesday and fled two villages infiltrated by hundreds of Taliban militants outside Afghanistan’s second-largest city. U.S., Canadian and Afghan troops had about 250 of the insurgents surrounded.

The troops killed 50 militants in three days of fighting 15 miles north of Kandahar city, the provincial police chief said. Three policemen and one Afghan soldier also died.

“The people are fleeing because the Taliban are taking over civilian homes,” Sayed Agha Saqib said. “There have been no airstrikes. We are trying our best to attack those areas where there are no civilians, only Taliban.”

Saqib said 250 militants were surrounded, and 16 suspected Taliban have been arrested.

In eastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a nighttime raid on a compound sparked a gunbattle late Wednesday that left three people dead, including two children, officials said Thursday.

The U.S. and Afghan troops clashed with suspected militants belonging to a suicide bombing network at a compound in Bati Kot district in Nangarhar province, said Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.


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