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Heavy Fighting Reported In Southern Afghanistan --> (RFE/RL) June 24, 2006 -- Military officials in Kabul said today Afghan and coalition forces have killed more than 80 militants in multiple assaults across southern Afghanistan during the past 24 hours.

They say that on June 23, troops fought more than 40 Taliban-linked extremists in a five-hour battle after receiving enemy fire near the village of Mirabad, northeast of the capital in southern Oruzgan Province.

No coalition or civilian injuries were reported.

In a separate assault, Afghan and coalition forces say they battled a large group of militants in the Zharie district of Kandahar Province, killing about 25 during the three hours of fighting.

Late on June 23, the coalition reported that another 17 insurgents had been killed when an enemy bunker was destroyed in Oruzgan Province earlier this week.

(compiled from agency reports)

Helmand Province Governor Comments

U.S. Marines operating in Helmand Province in 2002 (epa)

RULING A RESTIVE LAND: On February 12, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Jawaid Wafa spoke briefly with Helmand Province Governor MOHAMMAD DAOUD about the ongoing violence in his restive region on the border with Pakistan.

RFE/RL: Recently, there have been many clashes and attacks by insurgents in Helmand Province. What in your view facilitates these attacks, especially in Helmand?

Mohammad Daoud: This province has a 160-kilometer border with Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. In reality, armed people, armed terrorists, from the other side of the border cross the border into Helmand. They carry out attacks and return back. It is a serious problem in Helmand that within our borders there is neither tribal good will, nor are there are special military or security measures to prevent enemies from crossing back and forth.

RFE/RL: The attacks and clashes have not only been between government forces and insurgents. There have been various clashes in different parts of Helmand between police and purported drug smugglers. How do you explain this?

Daoud: Drug smugglers also use the border for their own purposes. They have opened markets on the border and process opium there. This is a serious problem along our border. We are in touch with our authorities on this problem.

RFE/RL: There are government border police patrol your border. What is their role in preventing illegal crossings?

Daoud: Along this 160-kilometer border, there are car routes, walking routes. We have border police, but unfortunately, either because of their own problems or because of weak administration, they have not been able to stop the crossing.


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