While Taliban sources claimed having killed at least 15 government soliders, Afghan officials said three soldiers were klled when checkpoints close to the Pakistan border came under attack.

An Afghan commander, Haji Wali Shah, was also captured in the surprise raids.

Mullah Abdul Manan, the deputy police chief of Spin Boldak province in eastern Afghanistan said the Taliban force attacked posts at Kanjasu and Shero Oba, within a few kilometres of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Cross-Border

Afghan authorities say most Taliban fighters are crossing from Pakistan to carry out attacks and blames Pakistan for not doing enough to stop them.

The latest attacks come against the backdrop of spiralling lawlessness in Afghanistan with Taliban fighters targeting US-led international force and their allies.

The escalating attacks have fuelled speculation that the Taliban, ousted from Kabul by US-led forces in December 2001, are regrouping together with al-Qaida in Afghanistan's vast countryside.

Though local forces backed by soldiers and air power from the international force are seeking to hunt down the Taliban fighters, the search is proving difficult.