'30 Taliban fighters killed' in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

US-led coalition troops attacked a compound where Taliban leaders were meeting in western Afghanistan, killing 30 militants, American and Afghan officials said today.

The troops also called in airstrikes during the clash in the Shindand district of western Herat province, said coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry.

Some 30 militants were killed and five others were detained after the clash, Perry said. The troops found large caches of weapons and ammunition inside the compound after the operation, he said.

An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Gen. Mohammad Zaher Azimi, confirmed the clash but gave a different account of casualties.

Azimi said 25 militants and five civilians were killed in the clash and airstrike.

It was not immediately possible to explain the discrepancy in the numbers.

The operation was launched after an intelligence report that a Taliban commander, Mullah Siddiq, was inside the compound presiding over a meeting of militants, Azimi said.

Siddiq was one of those killed during the raid, Azimi said.

While most of Afghanistan's violence is affecting the country's southern and eastern regions that border Pakistan, the militants have also been active in the western provinces bordering Iran.

More than 3,400 people — mostly militants — have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, according to figures from Western and Afghan officials.