19 militants killed in Afghan clashes

KABUL – Afghan police and coalition forces killed 19 suspected militants in two separate clashes in southern Afghanistan, while four Afghan guards were killed near the capital, officials said Saturday.

The militants died in two clashes in Uruzgan’s Charchino district Friday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. There were no casualties among police of foreign troops, it said.

Southern Afghanistan is the central battlefield in the fight against the Taliban, which has made a comeback as an insurgency since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled its hard-line government in 2001.

In neighboring Helmand province, thousands of U.S. Marines are conducting their biggest American anti-Taliban operation since the invasion, but it is Britain that has been losing most of the troops in that region. In the last 10 days, 15 British soldiers have been killed, one of the worst periods for that county’s troops here.

Separately, a provincial spokesman in central Afghanistan says four Afghan private security guards were killed in an insurgent attack on a main road in Ghazni province Friday.

Ismail Jahangir, the spokesman, says the incident happened in Ghazni’s Andar district.

 In this photo released by Physicians for Human Rights, this April 2002 photo AP – In this photo released by Physicians for Human Rights, this April 2002 photo shows a test trench dug …

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