'Dozens of militants' killed in Afghan clashes

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Afghan and international forces killed 34 militants in two days of clashes in Afghanistan, US forces said today.

Thirty of the deaths occurred during a firefight that broke out yesterday when Afghan army and US-coalition troops came under attack in southern Helmand province, the US said in a statement.

The troops were patrolling in a militant-heavy area of Greshk district when they were attacked by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, and returned fire, the US said. The troops confirmed there were no civilians in the area before counter-attacking and calling in air support, the statement said.

The operation also destroyed a cache of bomb equipment, the US said.

One Afghan soldier was injured during the operation, the statement said.

On Friday, Afghan and coalition forces killed three militants and captured one in eastern Logar province when fighting broke out during a raid targeting a bomb-making cell, a separate US statement said.

Meanwhile, one militant was killed in a raid to disrupt a bomb-making network in the eastern border province of Kunar, the US said.

The fighting follows the death Thursday of an Australian service member in southern Oruzgan province, NATO forces said. The bomb disposal expert died while trying to defuse a makeshift device. It was Australia's second death in the Central Asian country in a week.