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Over a dozen militants killed in Afghanistan clash

Saturday, August 02, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan —  A bus carrying a wedding party struck a mine in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, killing the bride and groom and eight others, a police official said.

Provincial police chief Matiullah Kahn said children were killed in the bombing, which he blamed on Taliban militants. Eight other people were wounded, he said.

Khan said the bride and groom were among the dead, but an AP Television News cameraman later interviewed the relatives who was said the groom was among the wounded. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the differing accounts.

A Taliban-led insurgency has engulfed much of southern and eastern Afghanistan, with more than 2,700 people _ mostly militants _ killed this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Afghan and Western officials.

The civilian deaths Saturday came after the U.S.-led coalition said some of its forces used airstrikes to kill more than a dozen Taliban fighters, also in southern Afghanistan.

Coalition troops were in a joint patrol with Afghan forces when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province on Friday, the coalition said in a statement. The joint force retaliated against the attackers and also called in the airstrikes, it said. There were no casualties among Afghan or coalition troops.

In southwestern Farah province, several militants were killed in another coalition airstrike Friday during an operation against Taliban and foreign fighters, the coalition said. Exact casualty figures were not provided.

In eastern Afghanistan, three Taliban militants were killed Friday when a roadside bomb they were planting in Paktika province exploded prematurely, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Militants regularly attack Afghan and foreign troops with roadside bombs. The number of insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan, has risen by 40 percent this year over the same period in 2007.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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