50 Taliban Killed or Wounded in Southern Afghan Battle

A six-hour battle in southern Afghanistan left over 50 Taliban fighters killed or wounded, while a homicide bomber targeting a police patrol ended in three civilian deaths, officials said Monday.

U.S.-led coalition forces raided a compound in the northeast suspected of housing Al Qaeda facilitators, killing several militants on Sunday, a coalition statement said.

In the south, NATO-led troops and Afghan army soldiers launched an attack in Baluch village in Uruzgan province during a gathering of local Taliban on Sunday, said Juma Gul Himat, the provincial police chief.

"More than 50 enemies were killed or wounded" and 13 others detained during the joint operation, a statement from Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said.

Maj. Charles Anthony, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said that "several dozen militants were killed" in the clash.

"This was a well-led and well-coordinated engagement, with the Afghan National Army and ISAF working in conjunction with each other," Anthony said.

Two policemen and an Afghan soldier were also wounded, Jumat said.

It was impossible to immediately verify the death counts.

The clash follows a large-scale engagement in neighboring Helmand province, where some 80 militants were killed during a weekend operation conducted by U.S. Special Forces.

In Helmand's capital of Lashkar Gah, meanwhile, a homicide bomber blew himself up next to a taxi stand Monday, killing three civilians and wounding five other people, including a policeman, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

The bomber, who appears to have been a teenager, was also killed in the blast. Andiwal said the target of the attack was a nearby police patrol.

Violence in Afghanistan this year has been the deadliest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. More than 5,300 people have died this year due to insurgency related violence, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and Western officials.

In the country's east, U.S.-led coalition forces raided a compound suspected of housing Al Qaeda facilitators, killing several militants on Sunday, a coalition statement said.

The troops fired at the militants as they fled the compound in Asadabad district, in Kunar province, the statement said.

"Coalition forces engaged the militants outside the compound area with small-arms fire and accurate conventional munitions as well as engaging the hostile militants inside the compound with small-arms," the statement said. "Several armed militants were killed during the engagements."

Five suspected militants were also detained during the operation.

The coalition did not provide any further details on the men's alleged links to Al Qaeda.