US military claims 43 Taliban killed in combat
Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed 43 suspected Taliban militants in a clash in southern Afghanistan, the military said on Tuesday.
The combined forces were patrolling in Qalat district of the southern province of Zabul on Sunday when it took rebel fire from heavy weapons, assault rifles and snipers, the military said in a statement, reported dpa.
The joint forces responded with ground fire and close air support, killing 43 militants, it said, adding that a civilian working with the coalition forces was wounded by insurgent fire and was evacuated to a medical facility for treatment.
The statement did not disclose the nationality of the wounded civilian.
No Afghan or coalition soldiers were injured or killed during the incident, the statement added.
But Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi said their fighters ambushed a convoy of Afghan and foreign forces in Zabul province on Sunday and killed four international soldiers and eight Afghan troops.
Ahmadi, who was talking to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by phone from an undisclosed location, said that following the ambush a NATO aircraft bombed the area, killing seven civilians and wounding two others.
More than 4,000 people - mostly insurgents - have been killed in Afghanistan conflict so far this year, according to figures provided by Afghan and international military sources.
The southern region including Zabul province is the main hotbed for Taliban militants, who lost power in a US-led military invasion in late 2001.