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Rocket Strikes Home In Afghan South

October 18, 2006 -- A rocket fired during an overnight battle between NATO forces and suspected Taliban militants struck a home in the southern Helmand Province today, causing noncombatant casualties.

Provincial police chief Ghulam Nabi Malakhel said the fighting began near the village of Tajikai not long after midnight and the house was hit during the ensuing exchange of fire.

Malakhel could not say who fired the rocket that hit the home -- whether international forces or guerrillas.

Malakhel also said at least one militant had been killed in the firefight.

'Mid-Level' Militant Killed

In other fighting in southern Afghanistan, as many as 40 suspected Taliban were reported killed in two encounters on 17 October. NATO says coalition warplanes bombed targets in Oruzgan Province, killing up to 16 militants, including a "known mid-level Taliban commander."

An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, General Muhammad Zair Azimi, says 24 more militants and one Afghan soldier were killed in a nearly five-hour battle in Paktia Province, near the Pakistani border, also on October 17.