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Coalition troops kill 18 in raid

KABUL, Afghanistan &

U.S.-led coalition troops battling suspected militants in southern Afghanistan lobbed a grenade that destroyed a house and killed 15 militants as well as a woman and two children, the coalition said today.

Meanwhile, weekend reports of other violence included the deaths of three policemen and a coalition soldier in separate explosions and raids.

The U.S.-led troops were raiding compounds suspected of housing bomb makers in the Garmser district of Helmand province on Sunday when militants attacked them with heavy fire, the statement said. Coalition forces responded with small-arms fire, killing several militants, it said.

After the clash, troops recovered the bodies of a woman and two children from the collapsed building, along with several militants and their weapons, it said. Another woman was wounded during the battle and taken to a medical facility for treatment. Two suspected militants were detained for questioning, the coalition said.

Rocket and mortar attacks reach low


Rocket and mortar attacks in Iraq have decreased to their lowest levels in more than 21 months, the U.S. military said today.

Last month saw 369 "indirect fire" attacks &

the lowest number since February 2006. October's total was half of what it was in the same month a year ago. And it marked the third month in a row of sharply reduced insurgent activity, the military said.

"" The Associated Press

The U.S. command issued the tallies a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said suicide attacks and other bombings in Baghdad also have dropped dramatically, calling it an end of sectarian violence.

A top U.S. general said he believed the drop was sustainable, as Iraqis turn away from extremists.

Total rocket and mortar attacks rose steadily from 808 in January 2007 to a peak of 1,032 in June, before falling over the next four months, a U.S. military statement said Monday.

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