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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 13:15 GMT
Helmand clash 'kills 25 Taleban'
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Kabul

British troops in Afghanistan
The mullah is reportedly fighting British troops in Helmand
Afghan police have killed 25 Taleban insurgents in the southern province of Helmand, the country's interior ministry has said.

The ministry said top rebel commander Mullah Naqibullah was among the dead but this was denied by the Taleban.

The fighting erupted late on Wednesday when the insurgents attacked a poppy eradication mission.

The violence took place as a senior US official said that the Taleban is in control of 10% of Afghanistan.

A group of Taleban fighters ambushed an Afghan poppy eradication mission on Wednesday.

An Afghan police force retaliated and after several hours of fighting, 25 Taleban insurgents were killed, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

They said one of those killed was Mullah Naqibullah, a prominent rebel commander who has twice escaped from prison.

But the Taleban has denied that the commander has died and a man claiming to be Mullah Naqibullah called up the BBC to say he was alive and had not been involved in the fighting.

Afghan and western forces in the country have been facing a resurgent Taleban over the past year.

Earlier the American Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told a US senate committee that the Taleban had regained control of 10% of Afghanistan, six years after they were ousted from power.

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