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Twenty-three Taliban, Afghan policemen killed

world Updated: Jun 19, 2009 15:38 IST

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Afghan and international troops have killed 23 Taliban militants in various operations in southern Afghanistan, one of which also left a policeman dead, authorities said on Friday.

Sixteen of the militants were killed in the southern province of Uruzgan on Thursday in a clash in which the policeman died, provincial authorities said.

"In a joint operation, a clash erupted with the opposition in which 16 Taliban were killed," said Mohammad Nabi Uruzgani, provincial police intelligence chief.

The bodies of the dead men were left behind after the fighting, he told AFP.

"A policemen was also killed in the clash," he said.

Also on Thursday, Afghan military forces killed seven Taliban militants in the volatile southern province of Kandahar, a stronghold of the Taliban militia waging an insurgency that has seen record attacks this year.

"Military forces killed seven of the opposition in Zahri district and they left their bodies on the ground," Afghan national army corps commander General Shir Mohammad Zazai said.

The Taliban are the main militant group operating in Afghanistan. With support from Al-Qaeda, they are fighting the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Afghan and foreign forces fighting extremist insurgents have stepped up operations this year to secure August 20 presidential and provincial council elections, a landmark in the war-scarred country's transition to democracy.