Chinese Guns Conquer Arabia
(NSI News Source Info) August 17, 2008: Saudi Arabia has bought 54 Chinese PLZ-45 155/45 mm (the barrel is 45 calibers, or 6,975mm long) self-propelled howitzers. This is a 33 ton, lightly armored, tracked vehicle. It has a crew of five and carries 30 rounds of ammunition. On top of the turret, there is a 12.7mm machine-gun. The Saudis have bought enough PLZ-45s to equip two artillery battalions. In addition to the guns, each battalion has 18 tracked ammunition carriers, three battery command vehicles and three reconnaissance vehicles (all six of these are modified Type 85 armored personnel carriers). Each battalion has two or more armored recovery vehicles, an artillery spotting radar vehicle, a weather radar vehicle and several maintenance vehicles. The PLZ-45 has a top speed of 50 kilometers an hour and a range of 450 kilometers on internal fuel.
The Saudis went with the Chinese equipment because the Kuwaitis have been using the PLZ-45 since the late 1990s, and were sufficiently pleased to have bought three battalions worth. The PLZ-45 was developed in the early 1990s for the export market. But the system has been so successful that the Chinese Army is using it as well.
The PLZ-45 155mm howitzer can fire long range (39 kilometers) shells, as well as the Russian Krasnopol (laser guided) shell. China got the artillery technology from Austria in the 1980s.
US asylum for Musharraf 'not on the table': Rice
(NSI News Source Info) Sunday, August 17, 2008 - WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday granting asylum to embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was not currently under consideration by the United States."That's not an issue on the table, and I just want to keep our focus on what we must do with the democratic government of Pakistan," Rice told foreign news channel on Sunday when asked if Washington would give the Pakistan president asylum.She spoke as Pakistan's ruling coalition readied impeachment charges against Musharraf and gave him two days to step down.Asked if it would be in the best interest of Pakistan to have Musharraf resign, Rice said: "This is a matter for the Pakistanis to resolve."We have been supportive of democratic elections that took place in Pakistan. In fact, advocated for them."She said the United States had showed its support for the new government, citing President George W. Bush's recent meeting with Pakistani premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.Rice said "President Musharraf has been a good ally" but that Washington had disagreed with his decision to declare a state of emergency.
Iran Claims To Have Upgraded Range of Warplanes
(NSI News Source Info) 17 August, 2008 TEHRAN - Iran has upgraded its fighter jets to allow them to fly 3,000 kilometers without refueling, Iran's air force commander said August 17, which would put arch-foe Israel easily within reach.
"We have succeeded in upgrading the capabilities of our planes and have increased the range of these planes to 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) without refueling," Brig. Gen. Ahmad Mighani was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
"We do not wish to attack another country ... but we will defend ourselves should we be attacked," he added, without however mentioning Israel.
Israel, which views the Islamic republic as its greatest threat, lies about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the Iranian border.
Iran's claims about its military capabilities are often greeted with skepticism by Western experts and Mighani gave no details about how the upgrade was achieved.
In June, Israel conducted war games that were seen as a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, which are the subject of an ongoing row with the West.
Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear armed power, along with its staunch ally the United States, is leading the campaign against Iran's atomic drive, which they suspect is aimed at developing weapons.
Iran, which test fired a number of missiles in war games in July, denies the allegations and says its nuclear drive is only aimed at providing energy for its growing population.
Iran has said on several occasions that should it be attacked, it would strike Israel using its Shahab-3 missiles which it says has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles).
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last week that the United States is at present opposed to any military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
(NSI News Source Info) August 17, 2008 - New Delhi: Continuing with its policy of constructively engaging countries in West Asia and Africa to make its presence felt in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India has sent four of its major warships to the Red Sea and the African coast on a two-month-long deployment.
"The Indian ships will be present in the IOR for a while, doing some flag showing and also engaging in naval diplomacy with some port calls, mid-sea exercises and interaction with personnel from the navies of the West Asian countries and the African continent," a top Navy official said.
The Indian warships--INS Delhi, INS Talwar, INS Godavari and INS Aditya-- will simultaneously be visiting countries and ports all along the eastern African coast and some ports in the Red Sea, apart from exercising with the French navy in the Gulf.
The ships from Indian Western Naval Command began their journey end of July and is only expected to come back to Indian shores in mid-September, the official said.
Delhi and Talwar have already completed their visit to Safaga port in Egypt in Red Sea between August 5 and 8, while Godavari and Aditya sailed to Refaet-al-Assad in Syria.
The ships would now be sailing Mombasa, the second largest port-city of Kenya, Darasalam in Nigeria, other east African ports and a couple of ports in Madagascar Island and
"With India's economic interest in West Asia and African region increasing, Navy will be playing its diplomatic role by visiting more ports all along the coast of eastern Africa, touching the Horn of Africa," the official said.
Apart from exercise with the French Navy, the Indian warships would also have Passage Exercises (Passex) with other navies off the ports during the course of their deployment in the region.
"Most of the navies in eastern Africa are small in size compared to the Indian Navy. What we would be aiming during these interaction is to give them the confidence that India would come to their aid whenever there is a need, considering that we have enough experience in all aspects of naval operations, be it military, diplomatic, policing or benign" the official said.
India would also conduct exercises with other navies during the deployment, related to Human Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) operations "to both train them and to learn from them."
Once the Indian ships reach Mauritius, they would also tow a Naval ship of the island nation to Kochi for refit and repair. "The Mauritian ship is from the Indian naval service.
It was given to Mauritius for their use and we have an agreement with them for the ship's regular refit and repair. This towing of the Maurutian ship is under that agreement," the officer added.
Navy has been engaging the navies of the IOR for a few years now regularly and it has been especially focusing on the West Asian countries and the African continent on the
7,000 police tasked to ensure security in Afghan capitalAugust 17, 2008 NSI News Source InfoU.S. soldiers inspect the site of a bomb blast in Kabul August 3, 2008. A roadside bomb struck a U.S.-led military convoy outside the Afghan capital on Sunday, killing one soldier and wounding another, the military said. The attack happened in Bagrami district on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, the latest in a spiralling cycle of violence blamed on a resurgent Taliban.
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL August 17, 2008 - The Afghan government in a bold step to stabilize security in the country's capital deployed more than 7,000 police on Sunday to ensure security in the war-torn Kabul city, a statement of the Afghan interior ministry said.
"This is the ever biggest operation over the past several months, launched Sunday morning with the involvement of more than 7,000 police in the capital city and adjoining areas to ensure peace and security," the statement added.
The major operation kicked off just a day before the country's 89th anniversary of Independence Day to thwart any possible terror eventuality.
Militants fighting the Afghan government and international troops based in Afghanistan had disrupted the 16th anniversary of the Afghan Mujahidin victory Day on 27th April by firing on the military parade and forced President Hamid Karzai and the cabinet members to run away.
Early this month, the Afghan National Army began taking over the security charge of Kabul from international troops and the process is going to be completed by the end of the month.
The Afghan capital of Kabul has experienced a series of terrorist attacks since the beginning of this year and the deadliest one was a suicide car bombing against the Indian embassy in early July, killing over 41 people and injuring more than 140 others, almost all of them civilians.
"The objective of this operation is to foil terrorist designs, arrest drug smugglers and outlaws in order to ensure peace and security in the capital city," the statement of the interior ministry stressed.
Iran successfully launches its first satellite into space
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN August 17, 2008 - Iran has successfully launched its first domestically built satellite, the news agency of the Islamic Republic reported on Sunday.
The satellite called Omid or Hope was delivered into orbit by an Iranian carrier rocket, IRNA said, referring to the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff.
In February Tehran successfully launched the Explorer-1 research rocket, which is reportedly capable of carrying a satellite into orbit, and unveiled the country's first domestically built satellite, named Omid.
Russia to start troops' pullout from Georgia Aug. 18 - Medvedev
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 17, 2008 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday during a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy that Russian troops would start their pullout from Georgia on August 18.
Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send in tanks and thousands of troops. Russia concluded its operation to force Georgia to accept peace on August 12.
Medvedev signed on Saturday a French-brokered plan on resolving conflicts in Georgia, aggravated following Tbilisi's assault on its breakaway South Ossetia on August 8.
The plan contains the main principles to resolve the conflict in South Ossetia, worked out at the August 12 meeting between Medvedev and Sarkozy.
These are renouncing the use of force, halting all military action, providing free access to humanitarian aid, the return of Georgian Armed Forces to their bases, the return of Russia's Armed Forces to their positions prior to combat and the start of international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and on ways to ensure their security.
South Ossetia conflict wipes $7bln off Russian market - Kudrin
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 17, 2008 - The armed conflict between Georgia and Russia over breakaway South Ossetia wiped $7 billion off the Russian stock market, Russia's Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Sunday.
Georgia launched major ground and air attacks to seize control of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send in tanks and thousand of troops. Russia announced on August 12 a halt to its operation to force Georgia to accept peace.
According to Kudrin, capital outflow hit $6 billion on August 8 and another $1 billion on August 11.
Kudrin said net capital inflow in 2008 will be slightly below the $30-40 billion figure predicted by the Central Bank of Russia.
"Capital inflow will be slightly below the official forecast due to the persisting global financial crisis and certain political risks that have emerged recently and influenced foreign investors' behavior," Kudrin said.
Russia denies reports of troops occupying Georgian villages
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 17, 2008 - Russia rejected on Sunday the Georgian authorities' statements that Russian peacekeepers had allegedly occupied the Georgian villages of Khashuri and Akhalgori.
Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of separatist South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send in tanks and thousands of troops. On August 12, Russia concluded its operation to force Georgia to accept peace.
"Russian peacekeepers have been given no orders to move to these populated areas," a spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry said.
As a result of Georgia's military offensive last Friday, South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was largely destroyed. According to Russian figures, around 1,600 civilians were killed and over 34,000 fled the region, mostly to the neighboring Russian republic of North Ossetia.
The Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman also said he was surprised over Georgia's allegations that Russian helicopters had set fire to forests near the Georgian town of Borzhomi.
"It is understandable to us that the Georgian authorities are ready to blame the Russian side for any natural disasters on the territory of Georgia. We have no relation to forest fires in Borzhomi but are ready to provide assistance in extinguishing them if Georgia makes an official request," the ministry's spokesman said.
Mystery Russian billionaire buys world's most expensive home
(NSI News Source Info) August 17, 2008: Record 500m euros for Riviera pad. If you are looking for a holiday home on the French Riviera, the stock of available properties just got smaller.
With grounds so grand that it takes a reputed 50 gardeners to tend them, the Villa Leopolda in Villefranche-sur-Mer has been snapped up by a mystery Russian billionaire.
Built by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902, the sumptuous villa has been graced by world leaders and superstars.
Villa Leopolda has 20 acres of grounds
The previous owner, the late banking billionaire Edmond Safra, is said to have entertained Ronald Reagan and Frank Sinatra there.
With the credit crisis causing turmoil in the world's financial community, and property values falling generally, you would expect the price to have tempered a little.
But no, the mysterious buyer is expected to hand over a whopping 500 million euros ($736m:£397m) for this luxury home on the Côte d'Azur.
It is all down to a shortage of supply and rising demand from rich business people, according to luxury estate agent Jonathan Hewlett, who has recently sold a London pad for more than £100m.
"The increase in the mega high net worth individuals globally is on a march," the Savills director told BBC News.
"And they are very specific about where they want to live."
Central London and the French Riviera are the current hotpots for Russian buyers, according to Mr Hewlett.
With the recent surge in commodity prices, there are still people in the market looking to purchase a very exclusive address, he added.
The Villa Leopolda price-tag smashed the previous record of £117m ($217m), which Britain's richest man Lakshmi Mittal reportedly paid this year for a home on London's so-called Billionaires Boulevard close to Kensington Palace.
But even the latest record may not last long. Asia's richest man, industrialist Mukesh Ambani is expected to move into the 27-storey property he has built to house his family and offices in Mumbai next year.
With a value reported to be up to $2bn, the design was said to have be inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
OSCE pledges aid to South Ossetia refugees
(NSI News Source Info) VLADIKAVKAZ August 17, 2008 - The international community will provide all necessary aid to refugees from war-torn South Ossetia following Georgia's assault on its breakaway republic, Europe's main security and human rights watchdog said on Sunday.
As a result of Georgia's military offensive last Friday, South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was largely destroyed. According to Russian figures, around 1,600 civilians were killed and over 34,000 fled the region, mostly to the neighboring Russian republic of North Ossetia.
"I hope that soon you'll see broader support [for refuges] from the international community, which will render all necessary assistance," said Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE).
During the subsequent Russian military operation to force Georgian troops out of the de facto independent republic and to reinforce its peacekeepers in the region, Moscow sent some 10,000 servicemen and several hundred armored vehicles into South Ossetia.
Iran denies allegations its banks fund nuclear activity, terror
(NSI News Source Info) August 17, 2008: Iran on Friday denied accusations by France, Britain and the United States that its banks were involved in illegal nuclear activity and in financing terrorism. The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of limited sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, including a round in March that introduced financial monitoring of Bank Melli and Bank Saderat. Iran has refused to comply with repeated international demands to halt nuclear enrichment, a process that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons or nuclear energy. The U.S. suspects the program is aimed at making nuclear weapons, but Iran maintains it is for peaceful purposes.
Earlier this month, Britain, France and the U.S. argued in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iranian banks were trying to get around sanctions by covertly conducting transactions. Iran rejected the charge in a letter to the Council on Friday, saying Iranian banks have never been involved in any illicit activities... because there no such non-peaceful nuclear activities in Iran. The attempt of the three countries to seek the restriction of the activities of the Iranian banks is intended not only to exert undue pressure on the Iranian government, but also to disrupt the banking and financial affairs of millions of deposit holders and customers of those banks, Iran's deputy ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi said in the letter. Last week, the European Union tightened trade sanctions against Iran beyond the existing UN sanctions. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said European governments would also carefully watch financial groups doing business with Iranian banks.
U.S., Israel seal deal for missile radar defense system
(NSI News Source Info) August 17, 2008: The United States and Israel have agreed on the deployment of high-powered, early-warning missile radars in the Negev desert, to be manned by U.S. military personnel. The radars, known as X-Band, will be linked to a U.S. satellite-based alert network. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said the new system could double or even triple the missiles' range of identification, which would be particularly useful should Iran launch an attack on Israel.
Details of the deal, which caught the public's attention at the end of July, were reported yesterday in the periodical Defense News, and were corroborated by senior U.S. and Israeli officials. The agreement had previously been discussed in meetings with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and his American counterpart, Admiral Mike Mullen, and by civilian defense leaders of both countries. According to the periodical, the radar will be operated by staff from the U.S. European Command, starting in early 2009. The system's deployment may even be moved up to this autumn, in order to integrate it with the Arrow missile defense system. Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. military staff will be permanently based in Israel for the first time. U.S. Army personnel were temporarily based in the country during the first Gulf War in 1991, and during brief periods of tension with Iraq following that conflict. Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, the head of MDA, told Defense News that from his perspective, "We're moving ahead as quickly as we can." The IDF's current early-warning system, known as Green Pine and a component of the Arrow network, has a range of 800-900 kilometers. When combined with the American satellite system, its range expands to 2000 kilometers. "We've been studying architectures to provide an integrated layered defense that will plug into various architectures for the region for many years," he said. "And having an X-Band radar, like the one we have in Japan, has always been part of our calculation." An Israeli security expert said the significance of the deal lies primarily in its linking Israel with the U.S. satellite system, which will add "precious minutes" to its early warning ability.
Pakistan: 23 more killed in Kurram clashes, several villages set on fire
(NSI News Source Info) Sunday, August 17, 2008 - PARACHINAR: Twenty-three more persons were killed including 16 extremists and 28 others injured as clashes between the rival Bangash and Turi tribesmen continued in various parts of the Kurram Agency for the 11th straight day.Sources said that fighting continued in rival tribes for the eleventh straight day while clashes were intensified after arrival of more extremists in the troubled areas. The militants have set Araoli Saidanoon village ablaze. Three villages were set on fire within last 24-hour while missiles, rocket and artillery were being used in ongoing fighting. Leader of Turi tribe, Ali Akbar Turi has demanded to the government not to act as a silent spectator and launch a immediate operation against the militants. He said government should take strict action against the elements who have violated the agreement by coming from other areas to fight in Kurram Agency.Akbar Turi further said that security forces were fighting in other areas while in Kurram Agency they have left the people alone to fight militants.According to sources, 23 persons were killed and 28 others injured in various parts of the agency in fighting.
Russian Fighter's Comeback
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 17, 2008: Sukhoi 35 and MiG-35 will soon join other Russian fighters at the stables of Russia's national United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The designer and producer of the venerable MiG, Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) announced plans to join UAC later this year. RAC has been listed earlier this year as a public joint stock company traded at the Moscow stock exchange. MiG-35 will be available for demonstration this year, while the larger Su-35 has recently made its public debut during a demonstration flight arranged for defense attaches and foreign representatives near Moscow, marking the beginning of an aggressive marketing campaign positioning the Russian strike fighter as a viable competitor against western 4+ and 5th generation competitors.
Irkut / (Sukhoi) Su-35
The new fighter differs from the Su-30MKI in the absence of the canard foreplanes, resulting from the introduction of a new fly-by-wire control system, integrating all flight control surfaces and wheel-brake control to fly the aircraft. The Su-35 uses 12 hardpoints to carry weapons and external fuel. Like other Generation 4++ fighters, Su-35 was designed with reduced radar cross section, particularly in the X-band (fire control) band, reducing detection in head-on engagement. Su-35 uses two Saturn 117S turbofan engines prepared for thrust vectoring capability if such option is selected by the client. The cockpit uses two large (15 inch) high resolution (1400x1050) color multifunction displays providing optimal situational awareness and control of all aircraft functions and weapons. The HUD has a field of view covering 20x30 degrees. The aircraft is equipped with the Ibris-E phased array radar which can detect aerial targets wit cross section of 3 m2 head on from 400 km. It is capable of tracking up to 30 air targets while continuously scanning the airspace, and engaging up to eight targets simultaneously. In air/ground mode the radar can track four targets simultaneously and engage two of them with different mapping modes. The Ibris-E is a new radar currently undergoing flight testing, in anticipation for future introduction into production versions of the Su-35.
For the smaller and presumably more affordable MiG, the most significant prospect for MiG is the MRCA tender in India, where Moscow is offering the MiG-35, the latest, most sophisticated derivative of the Fulcrum platform.
Anatoly Belov, Director General of the MiG Corporation said his company plans to demonstrate a single seater MIG-35 and two-seater (MiG-35D) to the Indian Air Force by year’s end or early 2009. “Both aircraft will be MiG-35 prototypes fitted with all the equipment required by the Indian Air Force tender. During the course of this demonstration we will show the main capabilities of the aircraft and of some of the weapons we propose for the tender.” said Belov. According to the tender plans, by mid-2009 two contenders will be chosen, from which the Indians will select their preferred supplier. The winner of the tender will supply 18 aircraft and help to establish the production of a further 108 aircraft at the facilities of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in India.
The Russian MiG is designed for service life 2.5 up over existing Fulcrums, it carries increased fuel capacity and has an option for air-to-air refueling (similar to the MiG-29K). The MiG-35 has an increased maximum gross takeoff weight and more flexible ordnance load, utilizing additional hardpoints for external fuel tanks and weapon stations. The MiG-35 uses quad-redundant fly-by-wire system and avionic suite based on open architecture, among the new systems are an active electronic scanning array radar (The Indians will be able to select different radars - Russian or international designs to match with the aircraft), it will also use advanced electro-optical air/air and air/ground targeting systems, also provided by international manufacturers. Survivability has also been improved, with design refinements reducing the aircraft radar cross-section and employment of improved electronic defense systems.
The latest versions of the MiG-29 currently in production is represented by the generation "4++", characterized by the new MiG-29K/KUB currently in production, scheduled to be delivered to the Indian Navy soon. This shipborne version of the MiG-29 represents the baseline of the new family of fighters offered by the company. It is equipped with quad-redundant digital fly-by-wire system, an improved fuel system and increased combat load. The aircraft is equipped with the Zhuk-ME multimode radar, electro-optical targeting system and target designation capability for passive anti-radiation missiles. It is offered with an 'open architecture' avionics bus incorporating Russian or other (international) avionics systems. A land-based version of this aircraft is designated MiG-29M/M2.
Upgrading of older MiG-29s is also underway. The most recent is the modernization of
Fulcrums operated by the Slovak Air Force. These MiG-29SD aircraft upgraded with participation of US, German, Czech and Russian providers jointly retrofiting the Russian-made fighters to meet the latest NATO standards. The program included the installation of modern avionics mandated by NATO. The IFF used was made by BAE Systems while navigation and communications systems were provided by Rockwell Collins. The aircraft uses cockpit displays produced in Russia. An important aspect of this upgrade was the formal approval by the Russian Government, which was provided under the “umbrella” contract negotiated and concluded between the Slovakian Defense Ministry and RAC МiG since 2002. The retrofit is done in Slovakia, at the Letecke Opravovne Trencin (LOT) facilities in the city of Trencin. To enhance operational lifespan, the aircraft was equipped with new diagnostic system and new method of performance based logistics (PBL) was implemented, extending the aircraft service life to 40 years and 4,000 flight hours. According to RAC, similar measures are being applied to other MiG-29s operated in Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland and Bulgaria, to extend their air fleets’ combat readiness. For example, in Poland, the Polish Air Force has taken a decision to continue operating their MiG-29s till 2025.Other upgrades offered by the Russians include the MiF-29SM, a multi-role fighter that undergoes avionics improvement, focusing on operational enhancement regarding air/air and anti-ship weapons capabilities. According to MiG, a prototype of the modernized aircraft has been tested, and serial production of the retrofit has been implemented with initial aircraft entering operational status. The company offers a more extensive upgrade under the MiG-29SMT 'Generation 4+' upgrade plan, as well as newly produced aircraft. The program includes the Zhuk-ME radar, partial 'glass cockpit' with two multifunction displays and full HOTAS functionality. MiG claims this upgrade entered serial production in 2004 with deliveries currently underway.
Afghanistan: Over 90 insurgents killed
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL 17 August, 2008: Afghan and US-led coalition forces have killed more than 90 militants during several days of fighting in the south of the country this week, the US military and the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Saturday.Violence has risen in Afghanistan this year with about 2,500 people, including 1,000 civilians, killed in fighting between Taliban insurgents and foreign and Afghan forces, aid agencies say. Clashes erupted on Wednesday when several militants attacked a joint Afghan and coalition patrol with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades, the US military said in a statement."ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) and coalition forces returned fire with small arms and close air support. Multiple vehicles and enemy fighting positions were destroyed," it said.More than three dozen insurgents were killed, it added. No soldiers from the Afghan and US forces or any civilians were killed in the fighting, which was continuing on Saturday, a spokesman for the US military said.The US military gave no more details about the location of the battle in separate clashes in the southern province of Kandahar this week. On Friday Afghan police killed 23 insurgents after militants attacked two separate police checkpoints in Nad Ali district of the southern province of Helmand, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.Four policemen were wounded in one of the attacks, it said. In another incident, militants attacked US-led coalition forces in Kapisa province to the north-east of the capital, Kabul, on Friday, the US military said."Coalition forces responded with air strikes and small-arms fire, killing the militants," it said, without specifying how many insurgents were killed in that incident. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said Taliban fighters had taken control of the Marja district in the southern province of Helmand and the Nawa district in Ghazni province, south of Kabul.