150 insurgents killed in fighting in Afghanistan

150 insurgents killedin fighting in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan -- As many as 150 insurgents were killed in fighting in southeastern Afghanistan on Wednesday night, shortly after two large groups of militants crossed into the country from Pakistan, NATO officials said Thursday. The fighting, unusual for winter in Afghanistan, marked the largest battle in four months between Taliban-led insurgents and government and international forces. It underscored the current border dispute between the neighboring countries and showed that the insurgency still is able to recruit fighters, despite NATO and U.S. assertions that the Taliban has been weakened.
Gen. Zaher Azimi, the Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, said the insurgent death toll was lower, at 80. He said 11 bodies had been left behind and bloody trails could be seen in the snow, showing that insurgents had dragged some bodies back over the border. One injured rebel, from the town of Miran Shah in the North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, was arrested, Azimi said.
Burglar gets stuck, dies
MISSOULA, Mont. -- A 6-foot-tall, 280-pound man who tried to break into a craft and hobby store by crawling in through a cooling duct got stuck and died, authorities said. The Missoula County coroner's office identified the man as Kenneth Ellingson, 37, of Missoula, and said the cause of death was positional asphyxiation.
The owner of the Treasure Chest hobby store arrived for work around 8:30 a.m. and called 911 when he found the store had no electricity and the phone was out, said police Lt. Mike Brady. There, they found Ellingson wedged headfirst in a cooling duct, Brady said.
Injury to delay trial
NEW YORK -- A former funeral parlor owner and embalmer accused in a plot to plunder corpses and sell the body parts for transplants has suffered a severe head injury that could keep him from going to trial for a year or more, his lawyer said Thursday.
Joseph Nicelli, 50, was in critical condition with a skull fracture and a broken leg last week after falling 20 feet off a roof while running a construction site in New Jersey, said the attorney, Richard Medina. Nicelli, along with three other men, was accused last year of removing skin, bone and other parts from hundreds of bodies at funeral homes without family permission.
Teen sues over scuffle
GREENWOOD, Miss. -- A videotaped scuffle between a black teenager and a white police officer who twice pulled his gun in a crowded high school hall has prompted a 1 million lawsuit, accusations of racism and calls for the officer's dismissal. The Dec. 6 Greenwood High School surveillance tapes that show the officer pointing his gun at the back of the unarmed teenager's head were released Jan. 5 as part of discovery in student James Marshall's lawsuit.
Staff sergeant in Playboy
SAN ANTONIO -- An Air Force staff sergeant who posed nude for Playboy magazine has been relieved of her duties while the military investigates, officials said Thursday. In February's issue, hitting newsstands this week, Michelle Manhart is photographed in uniform yelling and holding weapons under the headline "Tough Love." The following pages show her partially clothed, wearing her dog tags while working out, as well as completely nude. Manhart, who is married with two children, joined the Air Force in 1994, spending time in Kuwait in 2002. She trains airmen at Lackland.
Wolves to be killed
BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho's governor said Thursday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter told The Associated Press that he wants hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. That would leave about 100 wolves, or 10 packs, according to a population estimate by state wildlife officials. The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.
Comet visible today
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Nothing can keep dedicated stargazers from trying to get a glimpse of the brightest comet seen in decades -- not even temperatures as low as 40 below zero. There hadn't been a lot of buzz about Comet McNaught, but as the comet got closer to the sun, it brightened and the word spread -- the comet was special.
Comet McNaught, discovered last year by Australian astronomer R.H. McNaught, is expected to remain visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere through today, when it will come to within 16 million miles of the sun and be obscured by the sun's glare. After that, it will eventually emerge for people in the Southern Hemisphere to enjoy.
Combined dispatches

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