Afghan police killed in two attacks

At least nine police officers have been killed in Afghanistan in two separate attacks by Taliban fighters who, too, suffered casualties.

    Six police officers were wounded in the Hazar Joft attacks

    The incidents happened in the southern province of Helmand

    on Friday night and followed a spate of violence in

    the troubled south, police officials in the province said on Saturday.

    They said five insurgents died in one of the attacks.

    Seven police officers were killed in Hazar Joft district after d

    ozens of insurgents raided and burned the district and police

    headquarters, and the other two died in a raid in Baghran

    district, they added.

    Six police officers were wounded in the Hazar Joft attacks,

    district police chief Haji Bahadur said.

    "Apart from our casualties, five Taliban were killed,too,

    in the fighting," Bahadur said.

    But a Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, said Taliban

    fighters killed 10 police officers and only one insurgent had died.

    Helmand was a key Taliban bastion until US-led forces

    overthrew their government in 2001. 

    Increasing violence

    The attacks followed a flare-up of violence in the past

    week in which Afghan and US military officials said at least

    two dozen Taliban fighters were killed in adjacent Kandahar and

    Uruzgan provinces. 

    There are about 30,000 US and
    Nato soldiers in Afghanistan

    At least 10 soldiers from the US-led foreign force

    battling the insurgents were wounded in clashes. 

    About 20,000 mostly US troops are

    hunting the Taliban and their allies, including

    Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida fighters.

    Friday's violence came a day after Nato, which leads a

    separate peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, approved rules

    for an expanded force next year, which Washington hopes will

    allow a cut in US troop levels in the country.

    Nato wants to boost its 9000-strong International Security

    Assistance Force to about 15,000 from early next year. It will

    spread its bases in the north and west, and the capital, Kabul,

    to the more volatile south.

    Nearly 60 US soldiers have been killed in Taliban-linked

    violence this year, mostly in the south and east, the bloodiest

    period for US forces since the Taliban's ouster. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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