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Afghan, NATO Troops Try To Seize Taliban-Held Town

KABUL -- Afghan security forces and NATO-led forces were engaged in a joint operation to retake a remote town southwest of Kabul, the NATO force said.

Taliban militants captured the local government headquarters of the remote Ajristan district of Ghazni Province late on July 20, part of a campaign of seizing remote outposts and forcing thinly spread security forces to respond in a game of cat and mouse.

The counteroperation began on July 23 with an air strike on insurgents armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades inside the village of Ajristan, the NATO force said.

"Several insurgents have been killed and wounded," it said in a statement.

"Afghan troops are stationed near Ajristan and are conducting surveillance operations to locate any Taliban hideouts so air strikes can be carried out," provincial police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid told Reuters.

Taliban insurgents seized the remote town of Rashidan in Ghazni in May, patrolling the streets for some hours before withdrawing ahead of a government operation to retake it.

Ghazni Province is only a two-hour drive southwest from the capital, Kabul, and while not as unstable as southern provinces such as Kandahar or Helmand, the villages around the historic city of Ghazni have seen an upsurge of Taliban activity in the past two years.