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Afghan, NATO Troops Kill 20 Militants Southwest Of Kabul

Afghan soldiers standing guard at a checkpoint
GHAZNI, Afghanistan -- Afghan and NATO-led troops backed by air power killed more than 20 Taliban insurgents southwest of the capital Kabul, a provincial official said.

Taliban insurgents have vowed to intensify their attacks on Afghan and foreign troops across the country and launch a wave of suicide and roadside bomb attacks this year to expel international troops and bring down the pro-Western government.

The latest fighting broke out in Andar, Ghazni Province, after a vehicle belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) hit a roadside bomb that wounded four its soldiers, ISAF and the district governor said.

"The aerial bombings by foreign forces during the fighting killed more than 20 insurgents, and their dead bodies are still on the battlefield," Andar district Governor Abdur Rahim Desiwal said on July 31.

An ISAF spokesman confirmed the incident and the use of air support, but could not confirm any insurgent casualties.

Meanwhile, Afghan troops backed by Western forces killed around 18 Taliban insurgents during an operation in the southern province of Oruzgan on July 30, a government official said.

Clashes have increased by some 40 percent in the last two months over last year, NATO says, because of more ISAF and Afghan troop patrols, better weather, and more militants crossing the border from Pakistan.