23 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said today that Afghan and U.S. forces killed more than 100 Taliban fighters this week in the southern part of the country.
Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said that U.S. helicopter gunships killed most of them as they fled a district on the border of Kandahar, Zabul, and Uruzgan provinces seized by the Taliban last week.
He said that the dead included three senior Taliban commanders.
Three Afghan fighters died in the battles. The U.S. military said six of its troops were wounded and two helicopters damaged by ground fire.
Mashal said that up to 150 guerrillas escaped the three-day onslaught and crossed into Pakistan. He said the Taliban fighters included Urdu-speaking Pakistani militants, and police said at least two militants killed may have been from Chechnya.
U.S. and Afghan authorities have said that the militants are trying to disrupt parliamentary elections scheduled in September.
Afghanistan: Battle Linked To Elections, New Taliban Tactics