A gun battle with the Taliban killed at least 15 members of the Afghan security forces in the volatile southern Uruzgan province, an official said on Wednesday.

The fighting took place late on Tuesday during an operation to reopen an important highway in the province, said Mohammad Nabi Niazo, the Dihrawud district police chief.

Taliban gunmen blocked the highway between Dihrawud and the provincial capital, Tarin Kot, for almost four days, he said.

Following the deadly firefight, Afghan forces retook control of the road, Niazo said. Eight members of the security forces were wounded during the operation.

However, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi told The Associated Press that the battle for control of the highway is still going on. 

Niazo had no information of any insurgent casualties during the battle.

The Taliban have in recent months stepped up their attacks in Uruzgan and neighbouring provinces in the south, including the Taliban heartland of Helmand.

In northern Balkh province, meanwhile, fighting on Wednesday killed two police officers and eight insurgents in Charhar Bolak district, said General Abdul Razaq Qaderi, Balkh's deputy police chief.

"Around 100 Taliban insurgents, including foreign fighters, attacked police check points," Qaderi said. "The Taliban were pushed back after reinforcements arrived and right now the battle is going on in neighbouring Jawzjan province."

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the Balkh battle.

 Afghan forces face high percentage of casualties

Source: AP