Frightened residents are fleeing their homes in southern Afghanistan, ahead of a big military strike against the Taliban. Foreign and Afghan troops are being mobilised to drive out Taliban insurgents who have overrun at least eight villages in the district of Arghandab.
It is understood that several thousand Afghan troops will be given ground and air support from NATO-led forces. NATO troops are reported to have dropped leaflets from planes, warning civilians to leave the area.
Hundreds of Taliban escaped from the main jail in Kandahar city on Friday, after militants attacked it with explosives and gun fire.
A Taliban spokesman promised that after occupying Arghandab, their next target would be Kandahar. But Afghan and NATO forces say they are determined to stop the spread of the militants, once and for all.