Fierce battle erupts in western Afghanistan

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An Afghan army official says four members of an informal community defence force protecting villagers in western Afghanistan have been beheaded during a fierce battle with insurgents.

The commander of the Afghan National Army's rapid-response team in Herat province says the fighting occurred yesterday in a Taliban area of Shindand district. Maj. Zainudin Sharifi said today the defence force came under fire when it was investigating reports suicide bombers were planning to attack a coalition outpost.

Four were captured and beheaded during the fighting.

Coalition forces and the quick-response force responded, killing 10 militants. Sharifi says four of the militants died when they were hit by bullets that detonated their suicide vests.