19 people dead in latest Afghan violence | india | Hindustan Times
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19 people dead in latest Afghan violence

Taliban fighters ambushed a police patrol in southern Afghanistan's mountains, killing three cops, but leaving 12 militants dead.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 16:21 IST

Taliban fighters ambushed a police patrol in southern Afghanistan's mountains on Tuesday, killing three police but leaving 12 militants dead, while in violence near the capital, three health workers and their driver were killed by a land mine, officials said.

The ambush occurred in Helmand province, the heartland of the country's multi-billion dollar (euro) heroin trade, said Ghulam Muhiddin, the provincial administrator.

Dozens of Taliban fled after ambushing the police, leaving the bodies of their colleagues on the ground, he said. Police reinforcements were rushed to the area.

Several assault rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers were discovered.

The medical workers were killed on Monday about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Kabul on a busy road often frequented by foreigners, said Bashar Gul, a local deputy police chief.

The blast killed a doctor, two nurses and their driver, he said. The four worked for a local aid group, the Afghan Health Development Services.

The attack is the latest in a string of assaults on teachers, doctors and other aid workers in recent months.

Last month, gunmen stormed a medical clinic in a northwestern province and killed five doctors and nurses.

The Taliban opposes the presence of the development workers because they believe they bolster the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The latest violence brings to as many as 305 the number of militants, Afghan forces, coalition soldiers and civilians killed in a storm of violence that erupted a week ago, according to coalition and Afghan figures.

The deadliest incident was a US airstrike on the village of Azizi in Kandahar province late Sunday and early Monday.

The coalition said 20 Taliban were confirmed killed, while up to 60 more may also have died.

The local governor said 16 civilians had been killed, but one villager, Haji Ikhlaf, said on Tuesday that 26 civilians had been buried.

"We've buried women. We've buried children," Ikhlaf, 40, said by cell phone from the area, which has been closed off to reporters by local security forces.

"They are killing us. We are so angry." US commander Lt Gen Karl W Eikenberry told the agency that the military was "looking into" reports of civilian deaths.