Up to 70 Taliban dead as Afghan attack thwarted: officials

AFP , Wednesday 9 Nov 2011

Afghan officials say that at least 70 Taliban members were killed in a battle with foreign troops in the eastern part of the country

Up to 70 Taliban fighters were killed after trying to attack a foreign troop base in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.

The attempted assault happened late Tuesday at a combat outpost in Paktika province, close to the border with Pakistan where militants have hideouts. No international troops were killed or injured in the incident.

The killings came as a district governor from the same province died of his injuries after his car was struck by a roadside bomb.

Mokhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the governor of Paktika, said the attackers who targeted the ISAF base were likely to have come from the Pakistani side of the border.

"In a joint ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and Afghan operation last night in Barmal district, between 60 and 70 Taliban militants were killed," he said.

"Initial reports show that this big group of militants wanted to attack a joint Afghan-ISAF base in Margha area of Barmal but were stopped and air assistance was called in."

The NATO-led ISAF said that an estimated 60 Taliban were killed in the clash and there were no casualties among international forces.

ISAF spokesman Sergeant Christopher DeWitt added: "I can confirm that a coalition base in eastern Afghanistan came under attack by insurgents.

"Coalition aircraft assisted ground forces in repelling the attack and there is an unknown number of enemies that were killed in that process."

Combat outposts in Afghanistan are typically located in remote areas and house several hundred troops.

The Taliban's spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment on the attack.

Separately, Mohammad Akbar, the governor of Sar Hawza district in Paktika, died in hospital late Tuesday after his car struck a roadside bomb in the province, his spokesman said.

There are around 140,000 international troops in Afghanistan, most of them from the United States, fighting a Taliban-led insurgency which started after the Taliban were ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.

All foreign combat forces are due to leave the country by the end of 2014, but a sizeable mission to train and mentor Afghan troops is set to remain beyond that date.

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