Nato forces in deadly clashes

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The Independent Online

US-led and Afghan troops battled suspected Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan in ground clashes and airstrikes that left over 100 militants dead, the coalition said.

In eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber attacked Nato troops helping to build a bridge yesterday, killing three American soldiers, a US official said.

The battle in southern Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kot district started after the joint force was ambushed by a large group of insurgents who tried to overrun their position several times, before being strafed by airstrikes, the statement from the coalition said.

More than 100 suspected insurgents and an Afghan soldier were killed, the coalition said last night.

The casualty figures could not be independently verified due to the remoteness of the area.

The clash also left three coalition and three Afghan soldiers wounded, the statement said.

The nationality of the coalition soldier was not disclosed, but the vast majority of them are American.

Violence is soaring in Afghanistan. This year more than 3,900 people - most of them militants - have died, according to an Associated Press tally of casualty figures provided by Western and Afghan officials.

Also yesterday, US-led and Afghan troops raided a house near Kandahar city, killing two suspected militants and detaining five others, a coalition statement said.

Those targeted in the raid were accused of facilitating bomb attacks against coalition and Afghan forces in Kandahar, the statement said.

In the Taliban-held Musa Qala district of Helmand province, militants ambushed the joint US-Afghan force on Monday, another coalition statement said.

The joint force fought back, targeting militants who were using several compounds and trenches for cover, it said. About a dozen militants were killed in the clash, it said.

Militants have been running Musa Qala since last year's controversial peace deal between local elders and Afghan government officials, supported by British troops in the province.

The deal effectively turned over Musa Qala town and surrounding areas to Taliban control.