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Report: Afghan, Taliban battling

  • Story Highlights
  • A group of 50 Taliban fighters fired on Afghan troops near Payowak
  • Thursday's attack was sign of desperation, a U.S. military spokeswoman says
  • U.S., NATO troops have been battling Taliban in Helmand province for months
  • Karzai said Monday that the Taliban no longer poses a significant threat
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(CNN) -- Afghan troops backed by coalition aircraft are fighting a "large battle" with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan, the second major skirmish there this week, the U.S. military reported.

The battle had lasted more than 13 hours and was still going on early Friday in Helmand province, the U.S. command in Afghanistan said. At least 10 insurgents had been killed, and no Afghan, coalition or civilian losses were reported, it added.

A group of 50 Taliban fighters armed with mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades fired on Afghan troops and their advisers from the U.S.-led coalition near the town of Payowak. The Afghan troops received some warning when they saw civilians leaving the area before the attack, the U.S. military reported.

The Afghans moved to higher ground and called in coalition air support. Taliban fighters were reinforcing their positions, and dozens of insurgents were coming into the area to join the battle, the U.S. military said.

"We should expect more of these types of large-scale engagements as the insurgents start to run out of places to hide," Capt. Vanessa Bowman, a U.S. military spokeswoman, said in a statement describing the battle.

U.S. and NATO troops have been fighting a resurgent Taliban in Helmand province for months. The Islamic fundamentalist militia had ruled most of Afghanistan and allowed the al Qaeda terrorist organization to operate from its territory until a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

On Tuesday, a group of about 75 Taliban fighters attacked a coalition military outpost from three directions, sparking a clash that involved U.S. warplanes and coalition troops.

That clash came one day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the Taliban no longer poses a significant threat either to his government or to its institutions, though they still endanger innocent people. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About The Taliban

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