Coalition Forces Kill 45 in Taliban Camps Across Afghanistan

Coalition forces killed 45 insurgents at two camps in southern Afghanistan as they pressed forward with a major anti-Taliban offensive, military officials said Saturday.

On Friday, Afghan and coalition forces surrounded a "known enemy camp" in Khod Valley, Shaheed Hasas district of Uruzgan province, killing an estimated 40 fighters, the military said in a statement.

"Coalition forces tracked the development of this meeting until there were more than 50 extremists gathered before attacking the compound," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick. "The compound was severely damaged, and we anticipate most of those present were killed."

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Those killed included members of an improvised explosive device cell, financiers, and area leaders responsible for attacks against Afghan civilians and the army, the military said.

"Coalition forces have delivered a quick and severe blow to the enemy today," Fitzpatrick said.

In a separate incident, Afghan and coalition forces conducted a raid on a Taliban compound near Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan, killing five insurgents, the military said. They also seized about eight pounds of opium.

One U.S. soldier was wounded in the raid. He was later listed in stable condition.

Meanwhile, two coalition soldiers were killed Friday by a roadside bomb in Asadabad district in eastern Kunar province as they conducted a security sweep of the area, the military said.

The soldiers' nationalities were not released.

The combat actions were part of Operation Mountain Thrust, the largest anti-Taliban military campaign undertaken since the former regime's 2001 ouster in a U.S.-led invasion.

More than 10,000 U.S.-led troops were deployed this week across southern Afghanistan to quell a Taliban resurgence and prepare for NATO forces' imminent takeover of military control.

Days ago, coalition forces said they killed an estimated 40 militants in a remote, mountainous area of southeastern Paktika province in operations supporting Mountain Thrust.

One coalition member was wounded in that operation.

U.S., Canadian, British and Afghan troops have fanned out over four restive provinces — Helmand, Uruzgan, Kandahar and Zabul — to hunt down Taliban fighters blamed for a surge in ambushes and bombings.

Extremist forces, primarily Taliban, have been stepping up attacks against coalition and Afghan troops across the country, particularly the south, in the bloodiest campaign of violence launched since 2001.

More than 500 people, mostly militants, have been killed in the past month.

Seven militants died in an overnight gunbattle with police in the Mianshin district of Kandahar, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. One policeman was killed and another injured during the clash.

On Saturday, a suicide attacker on a motorcycle detonated his explosives near a group of Afghan soldiers in southwestern Nimroz province, killing himself and wounding two soldiers and three bystanders, said provincial spokesman Wahid Khairzad.

Three insurgents were killed in southern Helmand province when a bomb they were trying to plant near the road Friday exploded, said a provincial spokesman Ghulam Mohiudin. The highway between Sangin and Garisk districts is one used frequently by coalition and Afghan forces in the area.

Also Friday, Afghan authorities arrested 12 Taliban fighters who were attending the funeral of slain commander in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province, governor Haji Sher Alam said.

Four highway policemen were killed in southern Kandahar province when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle, provincial officials said.

Operation Mountain Thrust began in mid-May with limited attacks and raids launched by coalition forces. The offensive's main phase opened Thursday and is expected to expand further over the coming days.