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Afghan police battle Taliban, at least five dead

Written by: Staff

Kandahar, Afghanistan, May 14 : Afghan police battled Taliban insurgents in the south of the country today and five policemen were killed and seven wounded, a police commander said.

Police earlier received word that some Taliban were hiding out in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province and went to look for them, said police commander Shahwali Khan.

''Unfortunately, we lost five of our men,'' Khan said, adding that three civilians were also hurt.

Khan said the Taliban had also suffered casualties but he did not know how many.

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and Afghanistan's Western-backed government, have intensified their insurgency this year and hundreds of people have been killed in bomb attacks, ambushes and clashes.

Earlier, the Taliban said they had killed an Afghan intelligence officer in the neighbouring province of Helmand.

Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead the officer in the town of Lashkar Gah. A teacher with the officer was wounded, the deputy governor of Helmand said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said by telephone from an undisclosed location that the Taliban had carried out the attack late yesterday.

In a separate incident, six people three of them policemen were wounded in the northern province of Baghlan in a roadside blast.

Police said they were trying to clear a landmine found beside a road when a second went off.

The Taliban insurgency is largely confined to the south and east but there are occasional attacks in the generally peaceful north and west.

A UN driver and a doctor from a German aid agency were killed on Friday when attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at their vehicle in the western province of Herat.

A worker for the UN Children's Fund was seriously wounded.

All three casualties were Afghan.

President Hamid Karzai called that attack a ''despicable act of terrorism'' and blamed ''foreign mercenaries'' trying to hinder reconstruction. He did not elaborate.


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