Afghan forces backed by US-led foreign troops have killed 18 Taliban militants during cleanup operations in the southeastern province of Paktika over the course of past 24 hours, Press TV reports. Mukhlis Afghan, the governor's spokesman, told Press TV on Friday that Afghan police, army and NATO-led coalition forces launched joint cleanup operations in various districts of the province -- located some 155 kilometers (96 miles) southeast of the Afghan capital city of Kabul, killing 18 Taliban militants over the past 24 hours.
He added that some of the militants slain in the helicopter-borne operation by foreign forces were Pakistanis, and had crossed the border Barmal district.Afghan did not say whether there were any casualties on the side of Afghan or foreign forces. Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of some 130,000 US-led forces in the war-torn country. A recent report shows that militant attacks in Afghanistan have increased by 11 percent during the past three months in comparison with the corresponding period last year. The figures, which the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) released on July 26, also reveal that the month of June alone accounted for the highest number of attacks in nearly two years, with more than 3,000 assaults. The report also noted that the number of attacks - such as roadside bombings and gunfire attacks from militants - rose in all three months of the second quarter compared with the same months in 2011. The US-led war in Afghanistan, which has caused record-high civilian and military casualties, has become the longest military conflict in the American history. Washington invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism. AZA/MP/JR