Afghan district chief dies in Taliban shoot-out

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KABUL, Nov 8 (Reuters) Taliban insurgents killed an Afghan district chief and his two bodyguards in the southern province of Zabul today, a provincial official said.

''Four Taliban militants on motorbikes opened fire on a vehicle carrying the Shah Joy district chief Qomandan Toor late this afternoon,'' said provincial intelligence chief Abdul Habib.

''The district chief and his two bodyguards were killed instantly and the insurgents fled the area.'' In the same province, US-led coalition and Afghan forces killed several insurgents and detained 10 more in an operation on Wednesday, a US military statement said today.

The operation in Qalat district aimed to disrupt Taliban weapons and explosive cells who were posing a threat to Afghan and coalition forces, the statement said.

Copying Iraqi insurgents, the Taliban have used suicide and roadside bomb attacks as a major fighting tool against Afghan government and Western forces after defeats in head-on clashes.

Further south, US coalition and Afghan forces killed several militants and arrested seven others during an operation in the Jawara district of Uruzgan province yesterday, the US military statement said.

One soldier from the NATO-led force was killed and another wounded when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan on Thursday, the military statement said.

Violence has sharply intensified in Afghanistan in the last two years, the bloodiest period since US-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001.

Reuters MP VP0145

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