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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 August 2005, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Suspected Taleban rebels killed
US and Afghan troops have killed eight suspected Taleban militants in a lengthy gun-battle in southern Afghanistan, officials say.

The clash was part of the latest of a series of military operations in Zabul province against fighters said to be loyal to the former Taleban government.

Rebel fighters have intensified their attacks in the run-up to the Afghan parliamentary elections in September.

Several pro-government clerics and officials have been targeted.

There has been no word from the Taleban on the latest violence.

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"During the operation we killed eight Taleban and captured three others," a local police commander, Ghulam Rashoul Aka, is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Reports say at least one Afghan soldier was injured in the clash.

Poll candidate targetted

In a separate incident, a candidate in next month's parliamentary elections escaped unhurt after an attempt on his life in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, reports quote police as saying.

A man opened fire on Omer Safi when he was walking in a crowd, the AFP news agency reports.

"The man has been arrested - investigation is ongoing," police official Sher Jan Durrani told AFP.

Suspected Taleban insurgents have stepped up raids on US and Afghan government targets in the past three months in southern parts of Afghanistan, including Uruzgan and Kunar provinces.

US forces say they expect insurgents to try and raise the level of violence ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for September.




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