Nine police, 10 Taliban killed in southern Afghanistan
KABUL - Nine Afghan policemen and 10 Taliban died in two separate ambushes, US and Afghan officials said, in a burst of violence that could herald more fighting as the winter weather gets warmer.
The police officers died late Thursday when their patrol was ambushed by suspected militants from the ousted regime in Chakul, one of the most violence-prone areas in restive southeastern Helmand province, officials said.
"The policemen were on a routine patrol when they were attacked -- nine policemen were killed," provincial spokesman Wali Mohammad told AFP by telephone on Friday.
He blamed the attack on remnants of Taliban, who are waging a revolt against government and foreign troops more than three years after they were toppled by a US-led invasion for refusing to hand over Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
"It is the work of the Taliban," he said.
Also on Thursday the Taliban attacked a government convoy in southeastern Khost province, injuring five Afghan security force personnel but losing 10 of their own fighters, the US military said in an emailed statement.
The five Afghans were injured in the initial Taliban ambush near an Afghan-Pakistani border post, and three insurgents were killed and one injured when Afghan government forces gave chase.
"Hours later, two coalition helicopters were surveying the ambush area and received small arms fire. One of the helicopters returned fire, resulting in the death of seven more insurgents," the statement added.
Meanwhile on the same day in southern Kandahar province a US soldier and an insurgent were injured when US-led forces investigating a bomb were fired at from a moving vehicle, the military said in a separate press release.
Both men are now in a stable condition and being treated at the Kandahar Airfield hospital.
Taliban activity has dipped during the harshest Afghan winter for a decade but from late February the weather gets warmer, which is expected to lead to a resurgence in attacks.
Afghanistan's south and southeast was the former stronghold of the Taliban and the area has seen been beset by violence in recent years.
In addition to local forces there are 18,000 US-led troops hunting Taliban and Al-Qaeda fugitives while around 8,000 NATO-led troops are on peacekeeping duties in northern Afghan province.