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Heavy Fighting in S. Afghanistan Leaves 72 Dead
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Seventy-two people including 58 suspected Taliban militias have been killed and over two dozens others made captive over the past two days in Taliban's former strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces in south Afghanistan, officials said in Kabul today.


"Some 53 persons including 40 anti-government militants and 13 policemen have lost their lives in the clash erupted in Musa Qala district of Helmand Province at 4:30 PM Wednesday," Interior Ministry's spokesman Yusuf Stanikzai confirmed.


Six police were injured and two others missing in the bloody gun battle involving hundreds of insurgents ended at 2:00 AM this morning, he added.


Some 10 bodies of the insurgents are still lying on the ground, he added.


A similar fatal conflict in the neighboring Kandahar Province on the same day claimed the lives of 18 militants, spokesman of the US-led coalition troops in the province, Quentin Innis, said.


"One Canadian trooper and 18 insurgents were killed in a fighting flared up in Panjwai district on Wednesday at 11:30 AM."


The Canadian soldier is said to be a female. It is the first time that Canada has lost a female soldier in Afghanistan.


As one of the main backers of the US-led war on Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Canada has 2,300 troops in the post-Taliban nation to help stabilize security there.


It is the first time that the Taliban-linked militants have launched a two-pronged attacks in the southern region.


Earlier this week, 200 of the former fundamentalist regime's supporters launched attacks on police checkpoints in the southeast Khost Province leaving two police dead and injuring seven others.


Taliban-linked insurgency has claimed the lives of 400 people including 25 American since beginning 2006.


(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2006)


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