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Afghan battles kill more than 100 militants

  • Story Highlights
  • Two battles took place in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan
  • Afghan authorities call in NATO air support to hit militants outside of city
  • No Afghan, NATO soldiers died during the operations, province police chief says
  • Helmand province is considered world's largest opium poppy-growing region
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Two separate battles that militants fought with Afghan and NATO troops in southern Afghanistan over the weekend left at least 100 insurgents dead, authorities said Sunday.

In the first incident, Afghan authorities called in NATO support after they spotted insurgents gathering on the outskirts of Laskhar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, late Saturday night.

NATO troops bombed the gathering that was planning to launch mortar attacks on an Afghan army compound, according to a statement from the International Security Assistance Force.

The force is an alliance of about 40 nations charged with supporting the Afghan government in maintaining security.

Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the province's governor, confirmed the planned attack and said 62 militants were killed in the air strikes.

In the second incident, 46 militants were killed during a three-day operation that began Thursday in the Nad Ali district, also in Helmand.

No Afghan or NATO soldiers died during the operations, said Assadullah Shirzad, the province's police chief.

Helmand is an important front in the war against Islamic militants. It is considered the world's largest opium poppy growing region, and that trade has helped fund insurgent activities.

Journalist Farhad Peikar contributed to this report.

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