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MARJAH, Afghanistan – Taliban fighters stepped up counterattacks Monday against Marines and Afghan soldiers in the militant stronghold of Marjah, slowing the allied advance to a crawl despite Afghan government claims that the insurgents are broken and on the run.
Taliban fighters appeared to be slipping under cover of darkness into compounds already deemed free of weapons and explosives, then opening fire on the Marines from behind U.S. lines.
Also Monday, NATO said five civilians were accidentally killed and two wounded by an airstrike when they were mistakenly believed to have been planting roadside bombs in Kandahar province, east of the Marjah offensive.
At midday at least six large gunbattles were raging across the town, and helicopter gunships couldn't cover all the different fighting locations.
Troops complained that strict rules to protect civilians made it difficult to use enough firepower to stop the attacks.