updated 8/9/2008 3:18:07 PM ET 2008-08-09T19:18:07

About 20 Taliban fighters were killed in a battle with Afghan and U.S.-led forces near a key military supply route in western Afghanistan, a provincial official said Saturday.

Younus Rasouli, deputy governor of Farah province, said police attacked a village in Bala Buluk district Friday after being informed that Taliban militants had ordered residents out and taken it over to use as a base. The police called in air support from the U.S.-led coalition during the battle, Rasouli said.

Coalition spokesman 1st Lt. Nathan Perry confirmed that fighter aircraft engaged in combat in Bala Buluk on Friday for about an hour. He said there were no coalition casualties but did not provide further details.

Bala Buluk includes sections of the highway between the cities of Kandahar and Herat and the main road to Farah city. Rasouli said the militants were suspected of planning attacks on convoys supplying American and NATO bases in the region.

Rasouli said residents had completely abandoned the village, Seya Jang, so there were no civilian casualties from the fighting. He said the militants had retreated from the village, which was back under police control.

Fighting has spread from the south and east into areas such as Farah as the six-year-old Taliban-led insurgency has gathered steam. NATO said the rising violence is partly because there are more Afghan and international troops to mount patrols in remote areas.

Meanwhile, NATO said an Afghan child was killed and two injured by militants who attacked alliance troops on Friday in northeastern Kunar province.

The alliance said it was treating the wounded children at one of its medical centers. No troops were reported hurt.

In the eastern province of Paktika, the separate U.S.-led coalition forces killed several militants during an operation Friday against an insurgent with links to foreign fighters, the coalition said in a statement. A woman who was moving with the group of insurgents was wounded in the exchange and evacuated for medical treatment, it said.

More than 3,000 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Western and Afghan officials.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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