An armed villager checks a public bus entering their village of Castanas for weapons, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, July 19, 2011. The villagers formed an armed group to defend themselves in response to an extortion threat last Friday by the "Mara Salvatrucha" criminal gang, according to the leader of the armed villagers. There was no official comment from the local authorities. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

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    NATO kills 50 fighters, clears Afghan training camp

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    KABUL | Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:42am EDT

    KABUL (Reuters) - Foreign troops and Afghan special forces killed more than 50 insurgents during an operation in the east of Afghanistan to clear a training camp the Haqqani network used for foreign fighters, NATO said on Friday.

    The Haqqani network, considered one of the most dangerous militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, was responsible for several high-profile attacks, including the deadly raid on Kabul's Intercontinental hotel in June, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

    Disenfranchised insurgents told security forces where the Haqqani network camp was located in eastern Paktika province and the operation began late Wednesday and ended early Friday, the coalition said.

    "The encampment site was a staging area for Haqqani and foreign fighters. These fighters were moved into the country by Haqqani insurgents who planned to use them for attacks throughout Afghanistan," ISAF said.

    Security forces recovered numerous stockpiles of weapons, including mortars, rocket propelled grenades with warheads, machine guns with multiple crates of ammunition, AK-47 rifles, grenades and military gear, ISAF said.

    At least nine people were killed on June 28 when nine heavily-armed attackers stormed the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul, which is frequented by Westerners and VIPs.

    Also Friday five Afghan civilians were killed in northern Faryab province when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, said Sayed Masood Yaqubi, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

    (Reporting by Michelle Nichols in Kabul and Bashir Ansari in Mazar-I-Sharif, Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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