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Afghan official: 35 killed in anti-Taliban push

Thirty-two Taliban members and three soldiers are killed in an Afghan-Nato operation in Helmand province ahead of a major anti-Taliban push.

Thirty-two Taliban members and three soldiers have been killed in an Afghan-Nato operation in Helmand province ahead of a major anti-Taliban push, the provincial government said today. The operation took place in Nad Ali district, west of the provincial capital Lashkar Gar, today, said provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi. "We had an operation in the Nad Ali area last night," Mr Ahmadi said. "During the operation 32 Taliban were killed and the bodies of some of them remained in the area."

The southern province of Helmand, along with neighbouring Kandahar, has been the hub of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan since their regime was pushed from power in the US-led invasion in late 2001. The Marjah area, south of Nad Ali, is set to be the scene of a major military operation headed by US Marines who have been massing in their thousands, along with Afghan and Nato troops, for weeks in preparation.

Afghan and Nato officials said yesterday the operation to clear the Taliban from one of their last bastions should begin soon but gave no specific time frame. About 113,000 international troops are deployed in Afghanistan to eradicate the Taliban, with another 40,000 reinforcements due to arrive over the coming months. Most reinforcement will be sent to the southern insurgency hot spots. * AFP

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