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Dozens Of Taliban Fighters Killed In Afghan Air Strike


KHOST -- NATO has killed dozens of Taliban insurgents in an air strike in Afghanistan's southeastern province of Khost, the provincial governor said.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan over the past two years after the ousted Taliban regrouped and launched their insurgency against the government and the foreign troops backing it.

The pre-dawn raid on July 27 was summoned to fend off an attack by the insurgents in Spera district, which lies near the border with Pakistan, Arsala Jamal said.

"The Taliban attacked the headquarters of Spera district, killed two police and also damaged the building early this morning," he told reporters.

"We had little force there and asked NATO for air support.... NATO air strikes killed 50 to 70 insurgents," he said.

NATO said the insurgents numbered about 100 and it had used helicopters in the attack.

"Initial reports indicate that a small number of ANP (Afghan National Police) officers have been killed and wounded and the number of insurgents killed is in double-digit figures," it said in a statement.

The Taliban said the group suffered no casualties, adding its fighters killed eight police in the attack on the district headquarters.

If confirmed, the casualties will be one of the highest in recent weeks among the Taliban, who were removed from power in 2001 by U.S.-led troops.

Hours after the attack, a suicide bomber in a separate area of Khost blew himself up at the gate of an Afghan road construction company, killing a guard and wounding six other people, another official said.

The Taliban are mostly active in southern and eastern areas bordering Pakistan where the militants have sanctuaries in Pakistan's lawless tribal region, dominated by ethnic Pashtuns who mostly form the Taliban's ranks.

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