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Taliban Rebels Hit Hard in Afghanistan, U.S. Says

From Associated Press

U.S. warplanes supporting Afghan ground forces pummeled Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 11 rebels in three days of fighting, military officials said Thursday.

The fighting in the mountains of Kandahar and Zabol provinces began at the end of August, and more than 100 suspected Taliban have been killed, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. Four American soldiers have died in recent fighting in Afghanistan.

The battles in Zabol and Kandahar are part of a U.S.-Afghan operation dubbed Mountain Viper.

“Operation Mountain Viper continues to destroy the Taliban’s ability to operate in the southern region of Afghanistan,” the U.S. military said from Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul.

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The military says it is inflicting heavy casualties on the rebels -- but the militia’s ability to mount such stiff resistance for a sustained period has led to fears that the security situation is worsening two years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime.

The insurgents have been increasingly bold in their threats to Afghans who are seen as cooperating with the coalition. Last week, four Afghans working for a Danish charity were tied up and shot to death alongside a road. They had been warned several times to stop working with foreigners, and the Taliban is suspected in the deaths.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned Americans that they should consider themselves “targets of opportunity” for Taliban rebels, especially when traveling in the provinces of Kandahar and Oruzgan. Embassy official Sandy Ingram said the warning, issued Wednesday, was “based on specific intelligence.”


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