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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / October 14, 2008



Taliban militants took heavy losses in fighting across southern Afghanistan, most of them in a bold but failed assault against the capital of Helmand Province. About 60 were killed when they were spotted massing for the attack on Lashkar Gah in a presumed final offensive before the onset of winter. Fifty-four others died in separate clashes, US and Afghan provincial spokesmen said. The Taliban resurgence in the region has led coalition military commanders to call for more troops. Among them: US Gen. David McKernan, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan. But he also said, "We are not losing."

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With the power-sharing deal again on the brink of collapse in Zimbabwe, mediator Thabo Mbeki was en route there Monday to try to bring both sides together. The ex-South African leader was asked to reprise his role after President Robert Mugabe reserved all of the most vital cabinet ministries for his ZANU-PF movement. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change party threatened to pull out of the agreement permanently if Mbeki's efforts failed.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq told The Times (London) that British troops no longer are needed to provide security in his country. Britain has 4,100 soldiers in southern Iraq, although their mission has not been politically popular there or at home. In an interview published Monday, Maliki thanked them "for the role they have played," but expressed disappointment over their failure to confront "the gangs and the militias" in last spring's fighting in Basra.

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