15 militants, seven security men killed in Afghan clashes

Gun battles and a bomb attack across Afghanistan killed seven Afghan security force members and 15 suspected militants, while police recaptured a district that had been taken over by the Taliban in the volatile south, officials said today.

Gun battles and a bomb attack across Afghanistan killed seven Afghan security force members and 15 suspected militants, while police recaptured a district that had been taken over by the Taliban in the volatile south, officials said today.

Afghan forces supported by Nato troops took control of Kandahar province’s Ghorak district from Taliban militants Sunday night after fierce gun battles that left some Taliban casualties, said provincial Gov Asadullah Khalid.

The Defence Ministry said three Afghan soldiers were killed in the operation and 11 others wounded. Troops have set up checkpoints and are conducting regular patrols in the area, it said.

It was not clear how long the Taliban had controlled the district, but insurgents in contested areas of the south frequently attack villages and drive police out for a few hours or days. Police reinforcements later return with support from foreign troops to retake the area.

Attacks and military operations have killed nearly 2,700 people across Afghanistan so far this year, according to an Associated Press tally based on reports from Western and Afghan officials.

Meanwhile, Nato spokesman Maj John Thomas said today that Nato forces battling Taliban insurgents near the Pakistan border had bombed a building in Pakistan early yesterday, killing around nine civilians.

Nato was still investigating the number of people killed, as the death toll might have been a little higher than nine, he said.

“It’s a response to an attack by insurgent forces,” Thomas said. “That means the decision process is more rapid, and distinguishing targets is made under the heat of receiving fire from that position.”

Nato and US-led forces killed 60 insurgents in an overnight battle that began late Friday near the border with Pakistan, in what the military described as the largest group of insurgents crossing the region in six months.

Pakistan’s army said a rocket fired during the battle hit a house on its territory, killing nine civilians. It denied any insurgents had crossed the frontier.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pleaded with foreign forces to exercise caution to prevent civilian casualties, and on Saturday lashed out at US and Nato operations as “careless”.

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