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U.S. Launches Air Strikes In Afghanistan

20 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says it believes between 15 and 20 suspected militants have been killed in air strikes in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province.

The U.S. military said in a statement that the air strikes were launched on 19 June after a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol came under rocket and small-arms fire northwest of Helmand's Giriskh District.

The statement said initial battle-damage assessments indicated that 15 to 20 militants had been killed and one militant vehicle destroyed in the strikes.

The statement said the U.S.-led force suffered no casualties.

In another development, a spokesman for Taliban militants said on 19 June that the Taliban had executed the police chief of Mian Nisheen District and seven other men who were among hostages seized last week in Kandahar Province.

No comment on the Taliban claim was available from Afghan government officials.