Afghan forces backed by NATO-led troops fought Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan killing 15, including a regional commander, while three more died planting a bomb, police said on Friday.
Fighting erupted in Kajaki district of southern Helmand province late on Thursday when militants armed with machine guns and rockets attacked patrolling troops, regional police commander Nabi Jan Mullahkhail said.
"Our troops were on a routine patrol when they came under attack from the enemy. We killed 15 Taliban in the gunfight," he said, adding that a Taliban commander named Mullah Azizullah was among the dead.
The district was the scene of intense fighting earlier in the week, with police saying Wednesday that 17 rebels were killed in a three-day operation there also involving International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops.
ISAF is represented in Helmand -- which produces most of Afghanistan's opium crop -- by about 4,500 British troops.
Separately, three suspected militants were killed when a mine they were laying on a road exploded in Greshk district of the same province, Mullahkhail said.
He said the men were believed to be Taliban loyalists and were armed with AK-47 rifles.
Helmand, on the Pakistani border, is one of the most troubled provinces in southern Afghanistan.
The south sees the most violence linked to a bloody insurgency being waged by the extremist Taliban movement.