Clashes between insurgents and NATO-led and Afghan troops left 34 Taliban and three policemen dead in the latest violence in Afghanistan, officials said on Thursday.
Eight policemen, eight Taliban and three civilians were also wounded during the fighting in volatile southern provinces of Kandahar, Zabul and southeastern Khost which erupted overnight and continued early on Thursday, police said.
Twenty-two Taliban were killed during a joint operation by Afghan army, police and NATO forces late on Wednesday in the Pashmole area of Zahri district in Kandahar province, district police chief Ghulam Rasoul Aka said.
Most of the casualties occurred as a result of close NATO air support in the operation, Aka said.
Fighting erupted again early Thursday in Pashmole when insurgents attacked a police vehicle, prompting a gunbattle, which left six Taliban dead, Aka said.
The police chief said four militants and three civilians were also wounded in the clash. In neighbouring Zabul province, Taliban fighters ambushed a police patrol in Shahjoy district late on Wednesday, killing two policemen and wounding another five.
"Two police were martyred and five were wounded in a Taliban ambush in Shahjoy district last night," provincial police chief Nur Mohammad Pakteen said.
In southeastern Khost province, rebels attacked a highway police patrol late Wednesday, killing a policeman and wounding three others, Khost police commander Mohammad Ayob said.
Ayob said six rebels were also killed by police and four militants were wounded in the clash, which occurred in the Maidani area of Gurbuz district.
Ayob claimed the Taliban fled across the border into Pakistan after launching the attack.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks by Taliban insurgents this year. The violence has claimed more than 3,000 lives, mainly insurgents in southern Afghanistan.