U S air strike, rebel attacks kill 13 in Afghanistan
KABUL, Apr 25 (Reuters) An air strike by U.S.-led forces in southern Afghanistan, a Taliban assault on a police station and a roadside bomb attack on a military convoy left 13 people dead in escalating violence, officials said today.
Four Afghan soldiers were killed during a U.S.-led operation against Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas in eastern Kunar province today when their convoy was bombed near the border with Pakistan, provincial governor Assadullah Wafa said.
U.S.-led forces yesterday launched an air strike on a suspected Taliban camp in the Lashkar Gah area of southern Helmand province killing three fighters, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Also yesterday, Taliban guerrillas attacked a police station in the Mianishin district of neighbouring Kandahar province. They killed one police officer, but lost five of their own men, a provincial official said.
The Taliban announced a spring offensive in March, although there had been an unusual level of militant activity in the winter months with the increasing use of suicide bombers.
The Taliban and its Islamist allies are active mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Dozens of Afghan soldiers have been killed, along with 13 U.S. troops so far this year.
On Saturday, a bomb killed four Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province.
The insurgency has run since a Taliban government was ousted by U.S.-backed forces in late 2001 after it had refused to hand over al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Although the insurgency has intensified, the United States plans to reduce its troop strength from 19,000 to 16,500 this year, while a NATO-led peacekeeping mission plans to deploy thousands more troops to fill the gap.
Reuters SHB DB2112