CBC : 80 Taliban killed in battle in southern Afghanistan: U.S.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

80 Taliban killed in battle in southern Afghanistan: U.S.

CBC News | October 28, 2007

The U.S. military says its troops led coalition forces in a six-hour battle that killed about 80 Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, while the militants claim the dead were civilians.

Coalition troops and members of the Afghan National Security Force opened fire after being ambushed while on patrol outside the town of Musa Qala, which is considered a Taliban stronghold, the military said in a statement.

A Taliban official in the town denied any insurgents had been killed around Musa Qala and accused foreign forces of dropping bombs on civilians.
U.S. officials said the battle began after militants fired machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The coalition said four bombs were dropped on a trench line filled with Taliban fighters, resulting in most of the deaths.

The fighting took place in Helmand province, where British and U.S. forces have been trying to drive out militants. The area is west of the city of Kandahar, where the bulk of Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan are stationed.

Taliban militants overran Musa Qala in February, four months after British troops left the town following a contentious peace agreement that handed over security responsibilities to Afghan elders. Musa Qala has been in control of the Taliban ever since.

Mainly British troops are engaged in almost daily gun battles further south in the province. It's an area of harsh, barren desert sliced through by the Helmand River, which provides a strip of fertile land where more than half the world's opium is grown.

U.S.-led forces ousted Afghanistan's Taliban government in late 2001 after it refused to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

With files from the Associated Press