KABUL, Afghanistan - US-led coalition forces fought with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan's poppy-growing belt yesterday, engaging in a daylong battle that left more than 60 Taliban fighters and one coalition soldier dead, military officials said.
Dozens of insurgents attacked a coalition-Afghan patrol near the town of Musa Qala in Helmand Province with machine guns, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades, the coalition said in a statement. Taliban reinforcements flowed in from Musa Qala all day, it said.
The coalition troops returned fire and called in artillery fire and attacks by fighter-bombers, leaving more than 60 of the Taliban fighters dead, the coalition said. One coalition soldier was killed and four were wounded.
The statement said there were no immediate reports of civilian deaths or injuries.
"The end is near for the Taliban that believe Musa Qala is safe from Islamic Republic of Afghanistan forces," said Major Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman.
"This combined operation is just one more step to securing the Musa Qala area of the Helmand Province."
Taliban militants overran Musa Qala in February, four months after British troops left the town following a contentious peace agreement that handed over security responsibilities to Afghan elders. The town has been in the Taliban's control ever since.
Elsewhere, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a convoy of a border security commander in the southern province of Kandahar, killing five police officers, said the district border security commander, Abdul Raziq Khan.
Canadian military officials said a Canadian soldier was killed and four comrades were wounded while on patrol Monday in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar.