Uruzgan Governor Jan Muhammad Khan said a group of 250 to 300 Taliban fighters fought government forces in the Khas Uruzgan district for around three hours in the afternoon before escaping.

   

Nine fighters were captured along with what Khan called "important documents", assault rifles, shoulder-held rocket launchers and ammunition.

   

The remaining Taliban fighters escaped to the southeast, Khan said.

 

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It was the latest in a string of attacks blamed on the Taliban that have claimed dozens of lives in the last few weeks.

   

While security officials and foreign aid workers say some attacks attributed to the Taliban are really local feuds between rival Afghan factions, remnants of the former Taliban appear to be stepping up violence.

   

Taliban officials say they are conducting a "jihad" against foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban was toppled from power by a United States-led invasion late in 2001 following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

   

The Taliban also says Afghans working for foreign aid agencies and troops loyal to US-backed President Hamid Karzai are legitimate targets.

  

There are some 12,500 US-led coalition forces hunting remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

   

Afghanistan says many Taliban guerrillas are crossing from Pakistan, and has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to stop them.

 

Pakistan was the main backer of the Taliban until the US declared its "war on terror".