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40 militants dead in Afghan battle

  • Story Highlights
  • More than 40 Taliban fighters killed in 12-hour battle with Afghan, coalition forces
  • 24 Taliban killed in Helmand province after ambushing joint combat patrol
  • No coalition forces were injured or killed in the fighting, U.S. military says
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(CNN) -- Afghan and coalition forces engaged in another fierce battle with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing more than 40 insurgents in the 12-hour engagement in northern Kandahar province, the U.S. military said.

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Coalition forces have been fighting Taliban-led militants in Afghanistan.

On the same day, Afghan police and coalition troops killed more than 24 Taliban in neighboring Helmand province after the insurgents ambushed a joint combat patrol, the military said.

"Since Aug. 27, nearly 200 extremist Taliban fighters have been killed during failed attempts to attack ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and coalition forces," the military said.

Wednesday's battle in Kandahar started when a patrol of Afghan police and coalition forces came under attack near the village of Alekowzi in Kandahar's Sha Wali Kot district, the military said.

"They began taking small-arms and machine gun fire from approximately 10 insurgents," the military said.

"Within 20 minutes of the battle starting, the combined force was further engaged by an estimated 20 RPGs, fired from the nearby Hutak Village."

The insurgents were backed by an estimated 150 additional fighters, the military said.

The Afghan force repelled the attack but called in coalition air support which destroyed the enemy positions with precision-guided munitions.

No coalition or Afghan forces, nor any civilians, were injured or killed in the fighting, the military said.

U.S. military spokesman Army Maj. Chris Belcher said the successful fight was an example of the Afghan forces' "growing capability."

He said Afghan police were "following in the footsteps of the other Afghan elite security forces as they begin to chart their own course in defeating the insurgency."

Wednesday's fighting in Helmand province occurred more than 10 miles northwest of the Sangin District Center, the military said.

It started when a "squad-size element of extremist Taliban" ambushed "the patrol with small-arms, machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from several buildings within the village limits," the coalition said.

The security forces returned fire and the militants "reinforced their positions with additional fighters and also started firing from an extensive trench line located throughout the village," it said.

Coalition aircraft were called in and pounded "positively identified enemy positions using precision guided munitions."

Along with the Taliban deaths, a non-combatant was injured "by enemy fire as he attempted to flee the village prior to the engagement," the coalition said.

Elsewhere in Helmand province on Wednesday, Britain's Defense Ministry said two British soldiers were killed and another soldier and an interpreter were wounded in a blast while on patrol.

In eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan soldiers killed "several militants" after armed insurgents attacked the troops early Wednesday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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