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Coalition forces kill 38 Afghan militants

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. military: Coalition kills 32 Taliban members in Laghman province
  • Raid, 60 miles from Kabul, amid fears Taliban strengthening presence near capital
  • Militant network said to have set up roadside bombs, attacked troops
  • In Farah province, six militants killed, says U.S. military
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Troops in Afghanistan launched raids against militants over the last two days, killing 32 armed insurgents near the nation's capital and six militants in western Afghanistan, the U.S. military said in statements Wednesday.

Coalition forces targeting a Taliban roadside bomb cell killed the 32 armed insurgents in an operation on Tuesday in the Alishang District of Laghman province. The location is more than 60 miles northeast of Kabul, the nation's capital.

Troops detained one suspect and destroyed weapons caches that included explosives and roadside bombing materials. One female was counted among the dead.

"Removal of these militants and their weapon caches prevented countless roadside bombs while protecting more than 60,000 innocent Afghans of Alishang District from the Taliban's indiscriminate killing." said Col. Jerry O'Hara, a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan representative.

This comes amid concerns about the Taliban strengthening its presence near the capital.

The operation network targeted a militant network said to have built and set up roadside bombs and conducted attacks against troops and civilians last year.

The military said militants used small arms to shoot at advancing troops from roofs and alleys, and troops returned fire with small arms.

Much criticized in Afghanistan for airstrikes that hit civilians, the military said it "did not escalate the engagement with close-air support or artillery inside the village."

The coalition said it took 16 children and eight women away from the fighting and took them to a safe location.

"Coalition forces exercised great restraint and prevented any civilian casualties at the same time the enemy placed the whole village in harm's way by operating the way they do," O'Hara said.

In western Afghanistan's Farah province, army commandos backed up by coalition troops killed six militants Wednesday, including an operative who has supplied weapons to militants and conducted attacks on troops as well as acting as the chief bodyguard for a "high-level Taliban commander.

Both sides traded fire in a two-hour battle, and a weapons cache was discovered. The military -- which said they held a meeting with village elders to explain the operation -- protected 13 men, 38 women and 20 children during the incident. There was a commando injured in the raid.

"Today's successful operation demonstrates the skill of our Afghan National Army Commandos," said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, representative of the Afghan Ministry of Defense. "Our army is defending Afghans from those who would harm us."

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