At least 49 Taliban killed by Afghan forces

Fighting between Afghan and Taliban forces in a volatile southern province has left at least 49 militants and seven police dead, in what appeared to be the biggest independent operation ever by Afghan forces, officials said. The Afghan army and police carried out a joint operation in the Gereshk district of Helmand province Thursday morning, but NATO-led troops were not involved in the operations, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman. Azimi said Friday that 49 bodies had been found, up from a death toll of 28 he gave on Thursday. Azimi estimated the overall militant death toll at 69, saying the Taliban had buried 10 bodies and taken 10 others from the battlefield. Seven police were killed.