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Over 20 Taliban Insurgents Killed in S Afghanistan
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Over 20 Taliban militants were killed by Afghan police and the US-led coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, a coalition statement said Wednesday.

Some militants ambushed an Afghan police patrol in Sangin district of Helmand province on Tuesday, the statement said.

The police fought back and called in coalition air support, which dropped several bombs on the militants' position, it added.

"More than two dozen insurgents were killed in the failed ambush attempt, while there were no Afghan police or coalition forces killed or wounded," according to the statement.

Helmand, a hotbed of Taliban militants, in which government and foreign troops have been attacked frequently.

Due to rising Taliban violence, over 3,800 persons have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

In another development, Taliban militants on Tuesday expressed readiness to swap all the Korean female hostages with their women supporters held by Afghan and US military, insurgents' spokesman Qari Yusuf said.

"We offer to exchange all the Korean females with those Taliban women supporters who have been languishing at Afghan government prisons and US military detention centers in Kandahar and Bagram," Yusuf told Xinhua from an unknown location.

However, he did not say the exact figure of women who have been held by authorities in Afghanistan for supporting Taliban.

Taliban fighters kidnapped 23 Korean aid workers on Kabul-Kandahar highway late last month in the central Ghazni province and so far have executed two male of them.

Still 18 Korean women and three men have been languishing in Taliban captivity since their abduction nearly three weeks ago.

Taliban have in the beginning conditioned the release of the hostages to the release of eight Taliban prisoners from Afghan government jails and the withdrawal of 200-strong South Korean supporting the US-led Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Taliban insurgents have also warned to kill the hostages if their demands are overlooked.

However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his US counterpart President Bush have ruled out any concessions to militants for the release of hostages.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2007)

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