Several clashes in Afghanistan's south and east have killed 30 Taliban fighters, officials said Sunday. A group of Taliban insurgents attacked police checkpoints in Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province on Friday, sparking clashes that killed 23 militants, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Four police were wounded and 13 other militants were detained, it said.
Following the clash, the police abandoned the checkpoints, the statement said.
Southern Afghanistan is the center of a six-year-old Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan that is gaining strength and spreading to the east.
Insurgent attacks have jumped by 50 percent in the first half of 2008, according to data from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, a Kabul-based group that advises relief groups on security. More than 3,200 people _ mostly militants _ have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Western and Afghan officials. In the eastern Paktia province, meanwhile, Afghan and foreign troops clashed with a group of uniformed insurgents on Thursday, killing seven militants, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Among those killed was a group commander, Mohammad Zaman, associated with the militant leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, the statement said.