KABUL (Reuters) - U.S.-led coalition forces killed 32 insurgents in fighting that erupted in a village in eastern Afghanistan following a raid on a hideout of bomb makers, the U.S. military said Wednesday.
The Taliban who lead the insurgency against the foreign troops and the Afghan government, said 15 civilians were killed in the U.S.-led assault.
Violence has surged in recent years in Afghanistan since the Taliban, ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, regrouped in 2005 for driving out the foreign troops and to topple the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.
Tuesday’s operation was in a village of Laghman province and targeted a Taliban roadside bomb cell responsible for numerous attacks throughout the region, the U.S. military said in a statement.
“During the operation, as many as 75 armed militants exited their compounds and attempted to converge on the force. Shooting from rooftops and alleyways, the militants engaged Coalition forces with small-arms fire in the village,” it said.
“Coalition forces killed 32 armed insurgents including one female, detained one suspected militant, and destroyed two large caches of weapons, explosives and roadside bomb materials during an operation,” it added.
It did not mention any troop or civilian casualties in the operation.
The Taliban confirmed the U.S.-led operation, but said 15 civilians were killed in the coalition’s raid. The group did not say any thing about its reported losses.
Provincial officials were not immediately available and Reuters could not independently verify either account.
Separately, 11 civilians were killed by a heavy arms fire during a joint operation by NATO and Afghan forces against militants in an area of southern Uruzgan province this week, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
Nine more civilians were wounded in the fire, it added.
A spokesman for NATO-led force in Kabul said he would check the report which put the militants deaths to 12.
In another development, six militants were killed in an operation involving Afghan soldiers and U.S.-led forces in Farah province Wednesday, the U.S. military said.
It said one Afghan and one coalition soldier were wounded during the clash,
Some 5,000 people, nearly 2,000 of them civilians, were killed in violence across Afghanistan last year. The violence comes amid increase in number of foreign troops that stand to nearly 70,000 and will see a boost of up to 30,000 additional U.S. soldiers by summer.
The escalation of violence has created the fear that the country may slide back into anarchy.
Editing by David Fox