27 Taliban militants killed as massive operation going on in S. Afghanistan

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As the joint NATO- Afghan military operation entered its third day in Taliban bastion Marja district of Helmand province in south Afghanistan, over two dozen Taliban insurgents have been killed so far, commander of Afghan 205th Corps in the region said on Sunday. "During the cleanup operation until now, 27 insurgents were killed and 11 others detained by joint forces," Shir Mohammad Zazi told a press conference here in Lashkar Gah capital of Helmand province.

There has been a little resistance but the operation will go ahead until the security is ensured in the area, he said, adding " a women caught in cross fire and was injured."

Marja, a town with a population of 80,000, is a Taliban stronghold in Helmand while military analysts are of the view that over 1,000 insurgents including some 100 foreign fighters might be hiding in the town.

He also added that two international troopers had been killed in operation dubbed as "Mushtarak" or together in both Dari and Pashto languages spoken in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a press conference, Helmand's provincial governor Gulab Mangal said that the troops found and defused over 2,500 kg of explosive device which has been planted by militants in Marja's bazaar and roads to target the security forces.

Meantime, Taliban purported spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi in talks with media via telephone from undisclosed location disputed the report, saying the insurgents have inflicted huge casualties to both Afghan and the NATO-led forces.

The operation Mushtarak, launched on late Friday night with the involvement of nearly 15,000 Afghan, NATO and U.S. Marines, aims to pave the way for reestablishing government control in the area.

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