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20 insurgents killed in Taliban stronghold

  • Story Highlights
  • Twenty insurgents died Friday in clashes with Afghan soldiers, coalition forces
  • NATO-led service member killed Saturday in Helmand province, south Afghanistan
  • Afghan, coalition soldiers in region targeting bombmakers, weapons smugglers
  • Clashes come as NATO members discuss operations against Taliban, al Qaeda
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Violence flared in southern Afghanistan, with a NATO-led service member killed Saturday and 20 suspected insurgents slain in Helmand province Friday, authorities said.

An airstrike from a U.S. Navy F-18 fighter destroys a suspected Taliban position Friday in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines fire a 120mm mortar on a suspected Taliban position Friday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The violence comes as NATO members meet in Europe to discuss the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the service member died after being wounded by a roadside bomb. It did not specify the province where it happened or the victim's nationality.

"On behalf of ISAF, I offer our condolences to the loved ones of this brave service member," said Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, ISAF spokesman. "We cannot lessen their pain, but we can, and do commit ourselves to honoring this sacrifice as we strive to bring security to the Afghan people."

The U.S. military said the 20 suspected insurgents were killed in clashes with Afghan soldiers and coalition forces on Friday in the Kajaki district of Helmand province.

"The combined forces were conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol in a known Taliban stronghold in order to deny insurgents' freedom of movement when they were ambushed by numerous armed insurgents with mortar and small-arms fire," the military said.

The fighting in Helmand's Kajaki district happened during operations targeting suspected Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, suspected of bomb-making, weapons smuggling, drug activity and attacks on Afghan and coalition soldiers, the U.S. military said in a statement.

All About AfghanistanThe TalibanAl Qaeda

All About AfghanistanNATOThe Taliban

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