updated 9/2/2007 5:50:02 PM ET 2007-09-02T21:50:02

U.S.-led coalition and Afghan security forces aided by airstrikes killed about 25 suspected militants during raids on a Taliban command center in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said Sunday.

The joint force targeted two compounds southwest of Kandahar city late Saturday after weeks of observing the area, it said.

“Local residents had been seen leaving the area for the last few weeks and intelligence has suggested that insurgent commanders were attempting to re-establish their control in the area,” it said.

The clashes left 25 suspected militants dead, the coalition said. No coalition or Afghan soldiers were injured, it added.

More than 4,200 people — most of them insurgents — have been killed so far this year, according to an Associated Press count. This year the southern and eastern provinces have seen the worst bout of violence since the Taliban were ousted from power by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The surge in violence comes despite the presence of more than 50,000 foreign troops and 110,000 Afghan police and military officers.

Saturday’s raid followed a similar operation a day earlier in the east, where troops killed more than 20 suspected insurgents and detained 11 others in three villages in the remote Pitigal Valley, close to the border with Pakistan. They discovered a bomb-making factory and seized various weapons and communication gear, the coalition said. One coalition soldier was injured in the operation, it said.

A bomb attached to a bicycle exploded Saturday in a commercial district in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, wounding nine people, two seriously, police spokesman Sher Jan Durani said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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