June 3, 2006

Troops recapture Afghan district from Taliban

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops
recaptured a district occupied by the Taliban, killing at least
15 militants, an Afghan official said on Saturday.

The troops took control of the Chora district of the
southern Uruzgan province late on Friday, days after the
Taliban had captured the area, the defense ministry spokesman

"Fifteen bodies of the enemies of Afghanistan lie in the
battle field and up to 20 of them have been killed. The
operation is still going on against the enemies who are on the
run," Zahir Azimi said in a statement.

The statement did not say if there were any casualties
among coalition or Afghan troops. Coalition and Taliban
spokesmen could not be contacted for immediate comment about
the incident.

The operation comes during the bloodiest phase in a
Taliban-led insurgency since U.S.-led coalition forces
overthrew the militants' radical Islamic government in 2001.

When the Taliban took the district, they said they had
killed more than a dozen policemen and had taken up to 40 as
hostages. Twenty of them were later released.

Separately, 12 Taliban were killed when they attacked a
police station in Mia Neshin district of the neighboring
Kandahar province on Friday, said Dawud Ahmadi, a spokesman for
the provincial governor.

Some 900 people have been killed in the insurgency since
the beginning of the year, half of them in May.

Air strikes by U.S.-led coalition forces inflicted heavy
casualties on the insurgents in southern Afghanistan last
month, according to Afghan and coalition officials.

A rise in Taliban activity in the south coincides with
preparations for NATO-led peacekeepers to take control of
southern provinces from coalition forces, which have had a more
offensive mission to hunt down Taliban and al Qaeda remnants.

(Additional reporting by Ismail Sameem in KANDAHAR)