At least 31 Taliban militants, including a local commander, have been killed and nine others injured in a military operation carried by security forces in southern Afghanistan, government officials said.
The operation took place in the province of Helmand during the past 24 hours, the provincial government's media office said in a statement on March 12.
The statement said that the ground troops backed by the Afghan air forces cleared several areas near the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. Air strikes targeted militants in Nad-e-Ali and Garamser districts, it added.
Local Taliban leader Mullah Ewaz was among those killed by air strikes in Garamser's Hussainabad area, the statement said.
The operation came at the start of Afghanistan's spring fighting season, when warmer weather brings increased operations by both militants and government forces.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said on March 11 that security forces had killed 51 armed militants in operations across Afghanistan during the previous 24 hours.