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AFGHAN RAIDS "KILL 100 MILITANTS"

BBC News - 22 August 2005 More than 100 suspected militants have been killed in the past three weeks in operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the US military says. More than 40 were killed in operations in eastern Kunar province, where the US lost 19 personnel in June. Another 65 died in fighting in southern Zabul province, the US military said. The Taleban have stepped up violence ahead of next month's parliamentary elections. More than 50 US personnel have died in the past six months. On Sunday, suspected insurgents killed four US soldiers with a roadside bomb in Daychopan, in Zabul. 'Vote against violence' The coalition forces' "Operation Whalers" in Kunar province was launched to "clear the way for successful elections", the US military said. "We had over 29 separate engagements with enemy forces that resulted in over 40 enemy killed in action and many others wounded," said Lt Col Jerry O'Hara. Maj Gen Jason Kamiya said: "In a few weeks, the people of Afghanistan will elect a national assembly which will constitute a vote against continued violence and suffering and a vote for a free and prosperous future." He said the insurgents had a choice of joining the democratic process or "to continue to live in the shadow of continued military confrontation, violence, death and defeat". The Taleban have not yet commented on the latest US figures. Convoy raid Kunar's mountainous region has witnessed several deadly attacks on US forces in recent weeks by suspected insurgents who have vowed to derail the 18 September polls. In June, three Navy SEALs were killed in fighting in Kunar and a helicopter sent to rescue them went down, possibly under enemy fire, killing 16 more US personnel. On Sunday, Taleban spokesman, Mofti Latifollah Hakimi, said their fighters had detonated the roadside bomb that killed four US soldiers in Zabul. Three US soldiers were also hurt. Also on Sunday a second bomb hit a US embassy convoy near Kabul, injuring two officials. The Taleban claimed responsibility for that attack too although their statements could not be independently verified. The US now has about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and has lost close to 200 since Operation Enduring Freedom began following the ousting of the Taleban regime in late 2001.





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