Afghan, foreign troops kill 20 insurgents

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HERAT, Afghanistan, Oct 30 (Reuters) Afghan and foreign forces today killed more than 20 Taliban insurgents and wounded 20 in western Afghanistan an Afghan provincial official said.

Afghan troops and their Western allies are engaged in daily battles with Taliban rebels who have revived their insurgency in the last two years, but have largely switched tactics to suicide and roadside bombings after heavy battlefield defeats.

The latest fighting broke out in the Gulistan district of Farah province when militants stormed the district centre, a police official said.

''Six civilians and one Afghan policeman were killed and two other Afghan soldiers were wounded during the firefight'', said Ikramuddin Yawar, police commander for western Afghanistan.

''The fighting is still going on. NATO forces are supporting us from ground and air,'' he told Reuters.

Taliban militants have briefly taken over a number of district centres this year, overrunning isolated police outposts before withdrawing when Afghan army and foreign forces arrive.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb today killed an Afghan district intelligence chief, his driver and two bodyguards in eastern Afghanistan a provincial official said.

''The remote-controlled explosive hit the vehicle carrying the intelligence chief and his two bodyguards in the Qarghayo district of Laghman province this morning,'' said Nezamuddin, the provincial governor's spokesman who has only one name.

All four people in the car were killed, he said.

''We are still investigating the incident and no one has been detained,'' the spokesman said.

Meanwhile a soldier from the US-led coalition was today killed during an operation in the southern province of Kandahar the US military said in a statement.

Three Taliban insurgents were yesterday killed in a large operation by Afghan and NATO-led forces in the south-central province of Uruzgan the Afghan Defence Ministry said today.

Some 50 militants were killed or wounded in the same operation on Sunday, the ministry said.

Dutch and Australian troops form the bulk of NATO forces in Uruzgan.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan in the last two years, the bloodiest period since US-led and Afghan forces ousted the Taliban from power in 2001.

REUTERS SG HT1852

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