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Afghanistan: 65 militants killed

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Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- In an ongoing battle to extend Kabul's control of Afghanistan's southern provinces, Afghan soldiers and coalition forces engaged with Taliban fighters in Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces Friday, killing 65, according to a U.S. military news release.

Of those, 40 were killed when the joint forces responded to enemy fire from gunmen hiding outside the village of Mirabad in Uruzgan, northeast of Tarin Kowt.

The gunbattle lasted for over five hours and no civilians were killed.

Further south in Kandahar province, the joint forces fought a large group of extremists in the Zharie District, killing 25 fighters in the village of Bayanzi during a three-hour battle.

Some of the extremists used innocent Afghan civilians as shields to escape into nearby villages, the U.S. military said.

The battles were part of the ongoing "Operation Mountain Thrust," launched earlier this month to rout out Taliban forces in "areas where the government doesn't have a presence right now," according to coalition spokesman Col. Tom Collins.

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