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Afghanistan: Fierce Fighting Reported In South

Qalat, Afghanistan; 29 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan government soldiers, backed by U.S. planes, continue to battle Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan today after a night of clashes. Local government intelligence chief Khalil Hotak told AP this morning that fighting is concentrated in the Chinaran and Lazarb mountains of the southern Zabul province.

After bombing runs by U.S. planes ended early this morning, some 500 government soldiers moved in to take back fortified positions from the Taliban fighters. Hotak said 35 Taliban fighters were killed during the bombing and battles, but the information could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, in Spin Boldak, near the Pakistani border, Deputy Police Chief Mullah Abdul Manan told Reuters that Taliban fighters attacked two checkpoints outside the town overnight. There were conflicting accounts of the casualties.