US marines 'kill 80 Afghan fighters'

American marines have killed more than 80 suspected anti-government fighters in Afghanistan's conflict-riven southeast in recent weeks, a US military official says.

    US forces are leading a major offensive in the southeast

    More than 2000 marines were brought to Afghanistan in late April to hunt leaders of the Taliban and al-Qaida and destroy their networks.

    "As of now I would characterise that we have inflicted in excess of 80 casualties on the anti-coalition militias since we've begun talking about this operation," US-led occupation force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager said on Saturday.

    The suspected anti-government fighters have been killed in fighting over the past three weeks in offensives focusing particularly on Zabul province's Deh Chopan district, some 300km southwest of the capital Kabul.

    Kandahar's military commander Khan Muhammad said most of the dead had been killed by bombings in mountains.

    The marines are based in southcentral Uruzgan but operate frequently in neighbouring Zabul to the east and southern Kandahar province.

    Taliban strongholds

    Last week US-led coalition troops carried out sweeps of the former Taliban strongholds as part of an offensive aimed at stemming a spiral of violence in the lead-up to elections scheduled for September.

    On Thursday, 11 Chinese road construction workers were killed by gunmen in an overnight attack on their camp in northeastern Kunduz province. On 2 June, three Europeans and two Afghans working for the Medecins Sans Frontieres aid group were shot dead in northwestern Badghis province.
    The marine's operations have also come against a background of renewed activity by the Pakistani army in the tribal regions along the countries' common border.

    Mansager said there had been "no particular increase" in cross border activity in the southeast of Afghanistan since the latest Pakistani operation began.

    Meanwhile, US marines also captured a bomb-maker believed to be a "medium value target" on Friday in an area some 70 kilometres south of Kabul, Mansager said, without giving any further clarification of the location.



    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.