35 Taliban, six Afghan police killed in fresh battles

KABUL (AFP) – Fresh battles in insurgency-plagued Afghanistan Tuesday left 35 Taliban fighters and six policemen dead, officials said.

US-led coalition forces killed more than 20 militants when they repelled a rare frontal attack on a US military base, the coalition said in a statement.

Afghan army and coalition forces beat back the morning attack on US Firebase Anaconda, in Uruzgan province, in which the rebels used small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and 107mm rockets, the statement said.

It said that as 75 fighters attacked the base, air support was called in.

“Almost two dozen insurgents were confirmed killed in the attack,” it said, adding that two Afghan soldiers sustained minor injuries and were evacuated for treatment.

Four civilians, including two girls aged under 12, were also injured when they were hit by rocket-propelled grenades fired by the militants.

“This attack shows the desperation that the Taliban must be experiencing in their attempt to overthrow the duly elected government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said coalition forces spokeswoman Captain Vanessa R. Bowman.

The Taliban insurgency, which started months after their ouster in late 2001 by US-led forces, has intensified in recent years, claiming thousands of lives, mainly those of militants.

Uruzgan is one of the hotbeds of the Taliban insurgency and has seen frequent attacks by the rebels on coalition and Afghan forces through ambushes, remote-controlled bombs and rocket firings.

Separately, insurgents attacked a police patrol in southern Kandahar province, sparking a battle that left six police and 15 militants dead, police said.

The militants ambushed a convoy patrolling between two police posts in Zehri district in the morning, leading to a two-hour firefight, Kandahar police chief Sayed Aqa Saqib told AFP.

“Six police were martyred and 15 militants were killed in the fighting. The Taliban left their bodies at the battlefield,” Saqib said.

A police sweep of the area, which was launched after the attack, was still going on, he said.

Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, is one of the provinces worst hit by the insurgency.

There are more than 50,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan fighting Taliban militants alongside Afghan security forces.

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