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24 Taliban killed in Afghan battle

Story Highlights

• 24 Taliban fighters killed in seven-hour battle with Afghan, coalition troops
• Two coalition troops wounded after Taliban ambush in Helmand province
• Three Taliban killed in a seperate ambush on coalition troops in Herat province
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(CNN) -- Twenty-four Taliban fighters were killed during a seven-hour battle with Afghan and coalition forces at nightfall Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition command said Thursday.

Two coalition soldiers received minor injuries during the fighting and were evacuated to a nearby medical facility for treatment.

According to the coalition, the battle began when four Taliban members fired rounds at troops patrolling the northeast corner of Helmand province's Sangin district.

"After maneuvering to gain contact with the enemy force, U.S. Special Forces requested coalition air support to engage the Taliban fighters as they were attempting to establish ambush positions," the coalition said.

No civilian casualties occurred, the coalition said.

The following day, the U.S.-led coalition launchedair strikerike on a munitions compound in the northeastern section of the Sangin district after Taliban insurgents fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at Afghan and coalition forces conducting a security patrol.

A command coalition statement said two Taliban fighters were found dead at the scene after the strike.

There were no reports of any Afghan civilian injuries, the coalition said.

In Afghanistan's western Herat province, three Taliban insurgents were killed and three more were wounded by Afghan and coalition forces during an attempted ambush on their patrol Wednesday.

The coalition command in Afghanistan said the patrol was fired upon by Taliban insurgents donning Afghan national police uniforms at a makeshift checkpoint in the Shindand district.

"The combined patrol returned fire killing three insurgents and wounding another three," a coalition statement issued Thursday said.

According to the coalition, no civilians were killed or wounded during the clashes.

In the past two days Afghan and coalition forces have confiscated more than 100 fake police uniforms and more than a dozen forged identification documents in Herat province, which is located near the Iranian border, according to the coalition command.

In the last two weeks "there have been multiple reports of Taliban fighters impersonating ANP (Afghanistan National Police) officers and establishing illegal check points to kidnap and terrorize local Afghan civilians," the statement said.

The recent operations are part of an effort this spring to take on the Taliban insurgency.

Girl shot dead at NATO checkpoint

A NATO soldier shot and killed a girl in a vehicle that was approaching a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Thursday.

The incident took place in the Sabari District of Khowst province, where an ISAF convoy "discovered an unexploded ordnance and setup a temporary checkpoint in order to remove the hazard.

At that time, a vehicle "moved around a line of stopped cars and approached the checkpoint. " Troops "used verbal warning and hand signals to get the driver to stop.

"When the driver failed to stop, an ISAF soldier fired a warning shot into a nearby ditch. As the vehicle continued towards the checkpoint the soldier fired additional warning shots. The soldier then engaged the vehicle. One of the rounds struck the first girl."

The girl died of a wound at an ISAF base where she was taken. Another girl was injured in the incident and was taken to another ISAF base for treatment. There have been similar incidents in the past.

NATO and the U.S.-led coalition have been attempting to educate the Afghan public about what not to do at checkpoints and have worked on improving their rules of engagement at checkpoints.

"We regret the tragic loss of life," said Lt. Col. Maria Carl, ISAF public information officer. "ISAF goes to great lengths to minimize the risk to the civilian population in Afghanistan."



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