Coalition forces urge Taliban to surrender

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At least 27 insurgents have been killed and 11 others detained in the joint NATO-Afghan military operation in a Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province.

Coalition forces say they will continue their operation until security in the area is ensured.

At a news conference on Monday, the Afghan Interior Minister said the best choice for Taliban militants was to lay down their arms and serve the country.

Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghan Interior Minister, said, "Today our message, as our minister of defense clearly spelt out, to them is: your best option is to take advantage of the Afghan peace and reconciliation programme. There is no way you can win there, the Afghan people are determined to win. If they choose to take advantage of this program, we will definitely respond positively."

Coalition forces say they will continue their operation until security in the area is ensured.(

Coalition forces say they will continue their operation until security in the area is ensured.[] 

His comments came as US and Afghan troops pressed deeper into Marjah, battling insurgent sniper teams in an area believed to be a Taliban stronghold.

Major tasks facing coalition forces include defusing land mines and road side bombs set around Marjah. The top US commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal said it will take a month to control all of Marjah.

The offensive also faced a setback on Sunday when two US rockets slammed into a home outside Marjah, killing 12 civilians.

NATO said the missiles missed their target. However, the Afghan Interior Minister gave a different version of the events.

Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghan Interior Minister, said, "The reality is this, the enemy did detain some civilians in the house and they were firing at our forces from this house. Unfortunately our forces didn't know that civilians were living in that house and as a result, nine civilians were killed and our preliminarily investigations show that two or three fighters were killed."

The civilian deaths were a major blow to NATO and Afghan efforts to win the support of residents in the Marjah area.

Before the offensive began on Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked military commanders to be "seriously careful for the safety of civilians."

McChrystal apologized to Karzai for the accident and suspended the rocketing system used in the attack.

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