KABUL, Afghanistan -- A boat sank while crossing a river in Afghanistan's most dangerous province, killing about 60 Taliban fighters and civilians, officials said yesterday. Elsewhere, 34 other suspected Taliban were killed during a military operation.
The boat sank as it was crossing the Helmand River, which snakes through southern Helmand Province , the world's leading opium poppy region and the site of fierce battles the last several months. Hundreds of Taliban insurgents are believed to be in Helmand.
The Afghan Army was investigating to see how many Taliban insurgents and civilians were on board, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. It did not say what caused the boat to sink.
A ministry spokesman, General Zahir Azimi, said Afghan troops saw the boat sink from a military helicopter, suggesting that those on the boat may have been involved in a battle.
Meanwhile, 34 suspected Taliban fighters were killed in gun battles over the past two days in Helmand Province's Kajaki district, near where a US helicopter went down on Thursday. The crash killed five Americans, a Canadian , and a Briton.
An Interior Ministry statement said four Taliban group commanders were among the 34 killed.