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Taliban ambush Afghan militia unit, 2 dead

Taliban guerrillas ambushed a militia unit working with US forces in southern Afghanistan, killing two men and capturing six.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 14:42 IST

Taliban guerrillas ambushed a militia unit working with US forces in southern Afghanistan, killing two men and capturing six, the leader of the militia group said on Monday.

Militia commander Dawood said the ambush took place late on Sunday night in the troubled province of Helmand, where 3,300 British troops will soon be based as part of a NATO plan to expand its Afghanistan peacekeeping force.

A Taliban commander, Mullah Mujahid, said his men had killed five of the militiamen and captured six. One Taliban fighter had been killed, Mujahid said by telephone.

In some parts of Afghanistan, US forces hire local militiamen to help guard bases and convoys and to help on patrols.

Helmand has been plagued by insurgency since the Taliban were forced from power by US and Afghan opposition troops in late 2001. It is also a major opium poppy-growing region.

About 200 Taliban launched a series of attacks on government forces in Helmand on February 3, when more than 20 people were killed in the biggest battle in the country in months.

Troops from Britain, Canada and the Netherlands are leading a planned expansion of Afghanistan's NATO peacekeeping force into the volatile south where US troops have been fighting the Taliban and hunting militant leaders.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 14:42 IST