Source AP ©

Afghan, NATO troops try to retake town controlled by Taliban

An Afghan official said that Afghan and foreign troops have launched operation to retake a southern town controlled by Taliban militants.

The ground forces have surrounded the area and airstrikes are targeting militants inside Musa Qala, the town in southern province of Helmand, defense ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said.

Taliban militants overran Musa Qala in February, four months after British troops left the town following a contentious peace agreement that handed over security responsibilities to Afghan elders. Musa Qala has been in control of Taliban fighters ever since.

Situated in north of Helmand, Musa Qala and the region around it have seen the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan this year. It also is in the middle of the country's poppy-growing belt.

A large Afghan and British force have been massing around the town for weeks, facing an entrenched Taliban force.

In neighboring Kandahar province, three Taliban militants were killed when a roadside bomb they were planting exploded prematurely Friday, said Abdul Nazik Khan, a local official.

The blast, which killed the three militants, happened south of Kandahar city on a road frequently used by NATO and police forces, said

Roadside blasts usually target Afghan and foreign security forces, but the majority of the victims are civilians.

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