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Afghan Villagers Flee As Fighting Claims 28 LIves

Afghan soldiers at the site of a suicide bombing in Kandahar (file photo) (epa) 4 February 2006 -- Afghan officials say hundreds of southern villagers have fled their homes after the biggest battle in months between Taliban insurgents and U.S. and Afghan government forces.

Officials in the southern city of Kandahar say 28 people have died in gun battles in southern Afghanistan over the past two days.

A total of 22 fighters of the former Taliban regime were reportedly killed in four separate incidents on 3 February. A district government chief also died in the fighting, along with three Afghan police officers and two civilians.

More than 200 Taliban insurgents and 250 police and Afghan soldiers were involved in the battles, says Amir Mohammad Akhund, deputy governor of the southern province of Helmand. Akhund said it was the heaviest fighting between the Taliban and government troops in months.

U.S. forces, backed by fighter planes, were also took part in the battle with the insurgents.

Akhund said fighting erupted when militants attacked a government office in the Musaqala district of Helmand Province, killing the local government chief.

(AP, AFP, dpa)

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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