Taliban lose big in attack in Afghanistan

AP/MSNBC:

Fierce fighting following an insurgent attack on a U.S.-led coalition base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed 32 suspected Taliban militants and two troops — one American and one Canadian, officials said.

Twelve militants were killed in the initial attack on the base in Helmand province's Sangin district, while another 20 were killed as the insurgents fled, a U.S. military statement said. Two buildings at a Taliban compound were later destroyed, it said.

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In Wednesday’s incident, coalition troops called in aircraft to attack the militants, the U.S. military statement said. It added the military was still conducting a full assessment of the battle.

Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata said the troops “defeated a significant enemy element.”

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It was not immediately clear if the violence was linked to the drug trade. Helmand is Afghanistan’s main opium poppy growing region and there have been fears of widespread violence since an aggressive poppy eradication campaign started in recent weeks.

Helmand’s rugged mountains are also popular hiding places for Taliban rebels, many of whom are believed to slip back and forth across the province’s largely unguarded border with Pakistan.

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