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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2006, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
'Taleban killed' in fresh clashes
Coffins of police killed in Friday's fighting
Seven policemen were killed in a battle with the Taleban on Friday
Fourteen Taleban militants have been killed or injured in clashes after attacking police checkpoints in southern Afghanistan, police have said.

The raids on at least two police posts happened in Zabul province, about 100km (60 miles) north-east of Kandahar.

The police said no officers were killed, but the Taleban disputed this, saying at least seven police had died.

Saturday's attacks came a day after up to 41 Taleban were reported killed in clashes in Kandahar province.

About 30 Taleban fighters attacked the checkpoints in Qalat district, Zabul police chief Ghulam Nabi Malakhail told the Associated Press news agency.

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The AFP news agency quoted a Taleban spokesman as saying only two Taleban militants had been killed.

The police were deployed at the checkpoints to guard the main highway linking the capital Kabul with Kandahar.

In a separate incident, three suspected Taleban fighters were killed after ambushing Afghan and US-led coalition forces in Uruzgan, north of Kandahar, the US military said.

Arrests

Friday's clashes in Kandahar province were some of the most serious in a recent upsurge of fighting.

Kandahar governor Assadullah Kahlid said seven police were killed and the bodies of 13 Taleban had been found - but that there were reports of up to 41 Taleban dead.

That conflict was sparked after police encountered more than 100 Taleban fighters about 40km from Kandahar city, after they fled an offensive in neighbouring Helmand province, Mr Khalid said.

Nine police and three civilians had also been injured, he added, while 13 Taleban were arrested and survivors were being sought.

Direct attacks

Insurgents claiming to be Taleban fighters have increased their attacks over the past few weeks, the BBC's Alistair Leithead in Kabul says.

Suicide bombs and explosive roadside devices have been used commonly in the south of the country, but it appears direct attacks are also being used as a tactic, our correspondent adds.

On Wednesday coalition and Afghan forces launched Operation Mountain Lion, a major military operation against suspected insurgent positions in eastern Kunar province.

Some 2,500 US, British and Afghan troops are taking part in the offensive, which according to the Afghan defence ministry is the biggest joint operation since the Taleban were driven from power in 2001.

Foreign forces gave Afghan troops support in Friday's battle but did not suffer any casualties, reports said.





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