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More than 20 cops killed in Afghan battles

world Updated: Aug 14, 2008 19:03 IST

Police have been fighting fierce battles with insurgents in two areas of southern Afghanistan for the past fortnight, which has left more than 20 cops dead, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Police on Thursday pulled back from two posts in Helmand province's Nad Ali district under pressure from Taliban attacks launched two weeks ago, ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.

"In the past two weeks we've lost 15 policemen in fighting with Taliban in Nad Ali. This morning we had to withdraw from two posts," he said.

Fifteen other officers were wounded during the battles, he said.

The Taliban claimed to have driven police out of the district centre and said they had torched government buildings in the area.

Six other policemen were killed and about 10 others were wounded in Ghorak district in neighbouring Kandahar province, also under attack by Taliban rebels, Bashary said.

"The fighting in both places continues," Bashary said.

Another police officer was meanwhile killed and three others were wounded when a roadside bomb -- similar to those used by Taliban militants -- struck the motorcade of a top police official in Logar province, just south of Kabul.

Provincial police chief Ghulam Mustafa escaped unharmed from the attack, which came one day after Taliban militants killed three Western female aid workers in an ambush in the province.

The three employees of the International Rescue Committee were killed along with their driver when rebels opened fire on their vehicle on a road near the provincial capital Pul-i-Alam.

The Taliban said its men had carried out the attack, but said those killed were female soldiers.

The extremists launched an insurgency soon after being ousted from government in late 2001 by a US-led coalition.

The violence has mounted year by year, with about 50 per cent more unrest in some areas this year as compared with 2007, according to military and civilian officials.