60 militants killed southern Afghan battle

Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces killed a reported 60 militants in a major battle in southern Afghanistan this week, the coalition said Friday, raising the previous estimate of 40 killed. The battle in the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province Wednesday and Thursday left a reported 60 enemy fighters and 16 Afghan police dead, the coalition said. Twenty police were wounded.

An assault by hundreds of enemy fighters on the small southern town was one of the largest militant attacks since 2001, and marked an escalation in the campaign by supporters of the former Taliban regime to challenge the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force76, said the Afghan police "rapidly responded to drive (the militants) out with great success", reports the AP.