Seven Afghan militants killed in US raid

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The Independent Online

US-led coalition troops killed seven militants and detained three others during a raid on a bomb-making cell in southern Afghanistan, where insurgents earlier killed an Australian soldier, officials said today.

Troops targeted the militants in a compound in Kandahar province's Khakrez district early today, a coalition statement said. Those killed were suspected of involvement in attacks on coalition and Afghan forces.

Southern Afghanistan is the centre of the Taliban insurgency. The US is sending thousands of new troops to the south this year to try to reverse Taliban gains. The Islamic militants have made a violent comeback the last three years following an apparent initial defeat after the 2001 US invasion.

Separately, Taliban militants ambushed a police patrol in Kandahar's Panjwayi district, killing five officers and damaging their vehicle, said Bismillah Khan, a police officer.

Yesterday, officials said, an Australian soldier serving with Nato-led forces died of wounds sustained in an insurgent attack in the southern province of Uruzgan, which borders Kandahar.



The soldier, in a joint Australian-Afghan army patrol, was shot during a "very intense firefight" with 20 Taliban insurgents, Australia's Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said today. The soldier's name has not been released.



Australia has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, the largest contribution outside Nato. The clash followed a surge in violence in Afghanistan last weekend that led to the deaths of eight other foreign troops, including four Americans.



The spike in violence is an early indication that insurgent attacks are likely to surge as some 17,000 US forces arrive this year to bolster the record 38,000 Americans already in Afghanistan.

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