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Airstrikes in Afghanistan kills 16 militants

Airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan killed 16 militants fighting under a wanted Uzbek warlord with a US$200,000 bounty on his head, while seven militants were killed elsewhere, officials said Monday.

A suicide attack against a NATO convoy in the south, meanwhile, wounded two civilians.

U.S. forces early Sunday called in airstrikes against fighters of Tahir Yuldash, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and an al-Qaida operational commander, said Nabi Jan Mullahkhail, the provincial police chief of Paktika province. Sixteen militants were killed, he said.

The U.S. military late last month released a list of 12 Most Wanted militants in Afghanistan, and Yuldash was one of five listed with the top reward of US$200,000.

Mullahkhail said one enemy fighter - an Uzbek - was captured during the fighting in the Sorobi district of Paktika and said that the militants from Uzbekistan and Chechnya were fighting under Yuldash.

Afghan and coalition forces killed seven militants during a gunbattle in the Saydabad district of Wardak province Sunday, the Defense Ministry said. Four other fighters were arrested.

In southern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber on foot attacked a NATO patrol in Helmand province's capital of Lashkar Gah on Monday, wounding two civilians but no alliance troops, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

In the eastern Paktia province, U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan soldiers detained four suspected militants in Gardez district, the coalition said.

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