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40 Taliban killed in western Afghanistan: Afghan army

KABUL — US Marines and Afghan soldiers killed 40 Taliban fighters in a joint operation in Afghanistan's west on Monday, the Afghan army said.

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(AFP) – 1 day ago
September 28, 2009

"At the request of the local population an operation was launched by the Afghan army and the US Marines in the district of Bala Buluk" in the western province of Farah, Afghan army commander Jalandar Shah Dehnam told AFP.

During this operation 40 Taliban were killed and a number were injured, he said, adding that six Afghan soldiers had also been wounded.

"We do not know if the Americans sustained any casualties," he said.

A US army spokesman contacted by AFP confirmed that an operation was under way in Farah, but did not give further details.

Mohammad Younus Rasoli, deputy governor for the province said: "More than 30 Taliban have been killed and a number of others wounded."

The operation was launched overnight Sunday to Monday.

"These Taliban have come from abroad and set themselves up in this area," Rasoli said, a reference to Farah's border with Iran.

"Kidnapping and other crime has risen rapidly. That is why people living here have demanded action."

Dehnam said the operation was concentrated on the village of Shiwan.

"We have occupied the village and destroyed the Taliban bases. The insurgents have fled north" with 10 civilian hostages, he said.

Afghan forces made a number of intelligence-led arrests, Denham told AFP, adding that several local Taliban commanders were among the dead from the operation.

The Bala Baluk district has long been an insurgent stronghold, where violence flares frequently.

In May a US airstrike in the area killed a number of civilians, with the Afghan government putting the toll at 140. The US military said no more than 30 civilians were killed, but an inquiry by Afghanistan's human rights commission said 97 had died.

Afghanistan is facing a worsening Taliban-led insurgency, despite the presence of 100,000 US and NATO troops who are there to support its fledgling democracy.

The rebellion is at its worst since the hard-line Islamists were toppled from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion