Afghan officials claimed victory Wednesday after a 9-day siege by U.S and Afghan troops against suspected Taliban fighters holed up in a region of mountains and caves of southern Afghanistan. Scores of Taliban guerrillas were killed and others retreated in Zabul province, local officials said. In a sign that major fighting is over, about 600 Afghan troops have pulled out of Dai Chupan, a remote district of Zabul province, said Khalil Hotak, the province’s intelligence chief. That area has been the scene of the heaviest fighting since the Taliban’s fall from power in late 2001. Afghan troops found bodies along gorges, in caves and scattered across the front lines, Hotak told The Associated Press from a command center in Qalat. Troops found the bodies of at least 124 rebels since the joint offensive by Afghan government and U.S.-led forces began early last week, Hotak said, while most of the other Taliban fighters were believed to have slipped away. Five Afghan government troops were killed in the fighting, he said. Full Story
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