updated 7/13/2008 9:06:12 AM ET 2008-07-13T13:06:12

The U.S.-led coalition said Sunday that Afghan and coalition security forces have killed at least 40 militants during a two-day battle in southern Afghanistan.

The coalition says militants attacked the combined forces during a security patrol in Helmand province on Saturday from "multiple concealed and fortified positions." The military said that 30 "enemy boats" and several small bridges were destroyed on the Helmand River during the fighting.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up next to a police patrol, killing 24 people, including 19 civilians, a provincial police chief in the south of the country said Sunday.

The attack in the southern province of Uruzgan also killed five police officers and wounded more than 30 others, said Juma Gul Himat.

The bomber struck the police patrol in a busy intersection of Deh Rawood district, Himat said. The bombing also damaged or destroyed about nine shops in the area, he said.

Most of those killed and wounded were shopkeepers and young boys selling cigarettes and other goods in the street, Himat said.

Afghan civilians have suffered from a rash of bombings this month. Around 55 civilians were killed in a massive bomb attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul on Monday, while a government commission said this week that U.S. airstrikes killed 47 civilians in Nangarhar on July 6.

More than 2,300 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally of official figures.

Taliban executes two women
Elsewhere, Taliban militants executed two women in central Afghanistan after accusing them of working as prostitutes on a U.S. base.

The women, dressed in blue burqas, were shot and killed late Saturday just outside Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, said Sayed Ismal, a spokesman for Ghazni’s governor. He called the two “innocent local people.”

Taliban fighters told Associated Press Television News that the two were executed for allegedly running a prostitution ring catering to U.S. soldiers and other foreign contractors at a U.S. base in Ghazni city.

1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a U.S. military spokesman, said he has never heard of allegations “anything close to that nature.”

In Logar province, gunmen kidnapped parliament member Abdul Wali and his driver on Sunday, said provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Mustafa.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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