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Taliban retake Afghan district in south

The Taliban took control of Garmser district after police left the area, said provincial police chief Mohammad Nabi Mullah Khail.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2006 17:41 IST

Taliban militants have seized control of a volatile district in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, a senior police official said on Thursday.

The Taliban had taken control of Garmser district after police left the area in a "tactical" withdrawal, said provincial police chief Mohammad Nabi Mullah Khail.

"We have made a tactical (retreat). We will take control of the district again," he said.

Earlier a purported Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi claimed in a telephone call from an unknown location that Taliban fighters took Garmser district late Wednesday and were still holding it.

Mullah Khail, however, insisted there was no Taliban attack and no fighting for Garmser.

The militants held Garmser in July for up to 48 hours, before being driven out by coalition and Afghan troops.

Supporters of the former Taliban regime which was toppled in a US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 have stepped up an insurgency in southern and eastern Afghanistan this year.

There are almost daily attacks against NATO and coalition forces, Afghan army, police and non-governmental organizations.

A firefight with police in Zurmat district in southeastern Paktia province on Wednesday left four Taliban dead and three wounded, local police chief Abdul Hanan Raufi said.

"Police ambushed a group of 10 Taliban troublemakers in the area, four were killed and three wounded and one was arrested," Rufi said, adding that others managed to escape.

One policeman was wounded in the clash that lasted 45 minutes, he said.

Also on Wednesday six Taliban were wounded in southern Ghazni province in a two-hour battle with police, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Ali Fakofi said.

Government forces suffered no casualties, he said.

First Published: Sep 07, 2006 17:41 IST