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Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Taleban ambush kills 20 policemen

Map of Afghanistan

Twenty Afghan police have been killed in a Taleban attack on the home of a local politician in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials say.

The mother of a policeman who arrived at the scene to plead for her son's life was also killed in Wednesday's attack, a provincial official said.

The men had been protecting Mullah Salaam, the district chief of Musa Qala, who was elsewhere at the time.

Two Taleban militants were also killed, a Taleban spokesman said.

Local forces

The fighting in the Kajaki district lasted several hours, the BBC's Martin Patience said from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

He said many of the police were from the local area.

Wednesday's attack took place in a region where insurgents operate freely, the Afghan security forces having little reach outside of the main town centres.

The attack came the same day as two Nato soldiers were killed on operations in Afghanistan.

Taleban militants have also carried out a number of recent strikes against government forces.

Policing in Afghanistan is a notoriously dangerous job - more than 1,000 police were killed in 2008, most of them killed in militant attacks.

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