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'Taliban kill three police in Afghanistan'

Taliban militants raided a police post outside the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing three officers, while a pro-government cleric was gunned down in a city mosque, officials said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 15:48 IST

Taliban militants raided a police post outside the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing three officers, while a pro-government cleric was gunned down in a city mosque, officials said on Tuesday.

Three other police officers were missing after the insurgents attacked the post in Dand on the outskirts of the city on Monday, triggering a gunfight, regional police commander Ghulam Ali Wahdat told AFP.

One was wounded in the exchange of fire, he said.

"One of our posts in Dand was attacked by Taliban on Monday morning. Three of our policemen were martyred, three others are missing and another officer was injured," he said.

The Taliban rose from Kandahar province to sweep into government by 1996 before being removed in a US-led invasion in late 2001. The region sees almost daily attacks on government and international forces by Taliban insurgents.

Late Monday, men on motorbikes shot dead a pro-government mullah, or religious leader, as he was praying in a Kandahar mosque, provincial government spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the killing but the spokesman blamed the "enemies of Afghanistan", a common phrase used to refer to the Taliban, who have been accused of several similar murders in Kandahar.

The mullah was the 21st Muslim cleric to be killed by "the enemies" in the city since 2001, said the deputy head of the provincial religious council, Hekmatullah Hekmat.

Another mullah was killed in a similar manner in his mosque a week ago.

The Taliban are trying to regain power through an insurgency which has gained pace over the past two years and targets Afghan and international soldiers as well as prominent pro-government figures.

There are about 70,000 international soldiers in Afghanistan to help fight the insurgents, with up to 30,000 more US troops expected to begin deploying in the coming months.