At least 41 dead in latest Afghanistan violence


At least 41 people have died in the latest violence in Afghanistan.

More than 40 insurgents were killed yesterday as hundreds of coalition troops, many dropped by helicopter, wrested a desert town from the Taliban and US forces battled militants across southern Afghanistan, officials said.

A British soldier died after coming under fire in southern Iraq.

The US military, meanwhile, agreed to assist an Afghan government probe into reports that a coalition air raid killed civilians Monday in southern Uruzgan province. The military said the operation killed 40 extremists, but residents said at least four civilians died.

President Hamid Karzai also ordered new inquiries into fresh violence in Helmand province - the air assault Saturday on the insurgent stronghold of Sangin and Wednesday's fighting in nearby Nawzad. At least 29 insurgents died in the two clashes.

Widespread violence across southern Afghanistan has killed about 800 people, mostly militants, since May, according to an Associated Press tally of coalition and Afghan figures. The bloodshed marks the deadliest period since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.

Before dawn yesterday, more than 300 British paratroopers, backed by hundreds of US and Canadian forces, launched a raid in Sangin, where hundreds of Taliban had massed in preparation for attacks, said coalition spokesman Maj. Scott Lundy.