30 Taliban killed in Afghan operation: police

Troops have killed 30 Taliban militants in an operation to clear extremists from troubled areas of Afghanistan ahead of August 20 elections, a police chief said Wednesday.

Afghan and international security forces have been conducting operations in various insurgent hotspots over the past weeks to allow Afghans to vote in the presidential and provincial council elections.

In an ongoing sweep of the southern province of Uruzgan, around 30 Taliban had been killed in the past three days, provincial police chief Juma Gul Himat told AFP.

"So far 30 Taliban militants have been killed in this operation including their local commander named Mohammad Uldin," Himat said. "Two Afghan police have also been killed and three are wounded."

The sweep has been focused on the troubled Charchino district and involved mainly Afghan police backed by US-led troops, he said.

"The aim of this operation is to create a safe and secure situation for the elections," he said.

Police in the neighbouring province of Zabul reported on Tuesday that more than 40 Taliban militants were killed in a similar week-long operation there.

Southern Afghanistan sees the worst of an insurgency led by the extremist Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001.

There are fears that attacks or the threat of violence could keep Afghans from voting in the election, the country's second-ever presidential polls and a key test of international efforts to install democracy.

Afghanistan's international allies have pledged thousands of extra security forces to help protect polling day while troops have for weeks been conducting operations to clear out insurgents in several hotspots.

A black panther cub is seen in the grass at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin. AP Photo/Maya Hitij