Afghan army and border police, backed by army helicopter gun-ships, pounded several hideouts of militants in eastern Kunar province's Dangam district, police chief Abdul Habib Sayyedkhel said.

"The raid was launched on Friday. It is still going on there, and 21 militants have been killed so far," he added.

The operation will continue before the militants in the area are cleared, he said. The district has been the scene of fierce fighting after Taliban militants launched frequent attacks in apparent efforts to take control of the district center in the mountainous province over the past couple of months.

Earlier, in the northern Kunduz province, nine militants were killed and four others wounded after police and allied tribesmen carried out a raid in Khan Abad district Friday, provincial police spokesman Sayyed Sarwar Hussainee said.

Afghan security forces have pressed on clearing the militants in restive provinces as they assumed earlier this month the full security charges from NATO-led troops after a four-year security transition that ended December 31 last year.

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