Image: U.S. Forces In Afghanistan
John Moore  /  Getty Images
U.S. Army troops return to their base near Deh Afghan in the Zabul province of Afghanistan on Saturday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/24/2006 12:28:13 PM ET 2006-06-24T16:28:13

Afghan and coalition forces killed about 65 militants in two gunbattles in southern Afghanistan, the military said Saturday.

On Friday, troops came under fire from about 40 insurgents near the village of Mirabad northeast of the capital in southern Uruzgan province, the military said in a statement.

Most of the militants, who were firing from hidden positions in an orchard, ridgeline and compound near Mirabad, were believed killed, the coalition said.

No coalition or civilian injuries were reported.

In a separate assault, Afghan and coalition forces battled a large group of militants in the Zharie district of Kandahar province, killing about 25 during the three hours of fighting.

“Several extremists broke contact by using innocent Afghan civilians as shields to escape into nearby villages,” the statement said.

Decapitated bodies found
In other violence, the decapitated bodies of four Afghan men were discovered days after armed men abducted them, an official said Friday.

Elsewhere, a convoy including Danish army commander-in-chief Hans Jesper Helso was hit by a roadside bomb on Friday near Feyzabad in northeast Afghanistan, the Danish central army command said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the beheadings. Local residents found two bodies on Thursday near their homes in the southern Zabul provincial district of Shahjoy, and two more near the same area on Friday, said the Zabul governor's spokesman, Ali Khail.

The men had been kidnapped at gunpoint from the village of Chinoh, Khail said.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousof Ahmadi, contacted The Associated Press by telephone and said the Taliban killed the men because they had been allegedly spying for Afghan and coalition forces.

The claim could not be immediately verified.

Police have been sent to the area to investigate the deaths, said Khail. But he denied the Taliban claims that the victims were spies, saying the men killed "were civilians who had no link to the Afghan government or the coalition."

It is not the first time that Afghans have been attacked for being linked to the coalition in a bid to derail this country's U.S.-backed reconstruction.

On June 15, a bomb hidden on a minibus carrying Afghan workers to a coalition base in the neighboring province of Kandahar exploded, killing seven people and wounding 17.

The attack on the Danish convoy slightly injured one soldier and a light-armored patrol vehicle was damaged.

Helso was in Afghanistan on a routine inspection, an army spokesman said.

Denmark has 41 soldiers in Feyzabad functioning as military observers in the German-led provincial reconstruction team.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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