Afghan Attack Kills 50 Suspected Taliban

U.S.-led coalition forces attacked a suspected Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, killing more than 50 insurgents, the U.S.-led military coalition said.

The attack took place in the night near the village of Azizi in Kandahar province, the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan said in a statement today. U.S. aircraft supported the operation.

``These individuals were active members of the Taliban network and have conducted attacks against Afghan forces as well as civilians,'' the command said. Local residents said civilians were among those killed or injured when U.S. aircraft bombed the area, Agence France-Presse reported from Kandahar.

U.S.-led coalition forces and the Afghan National Army, which numbers 30,000 soldiers, have expanded operations into Afghanistan's southern and eastern regions, hunting for Taliban and al-Qaeda bases. Suspected Taliban fighters have increased attacks including suicide bombings in response to the operations.

An unidentified Afghan intelligence officer said 27 people were killed in the operation near Azizi, AFP reported.

Coalition forces confirmed that 20 suspected insurgents were killed in the incident, the command said. The insurgents may have suffered as many as 60 casualties, it said, reports the AP.

I.L.