updated 8/9/2006 9:40:10 AM ET 2006-08-09T13:40:10

Suspected Taliban militants hanged a woman and her son from a tree after accusing them of spying for the government, officials said Wednesday, while the U.S. military reported killing 15 insurgents who attacked a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan.

An Afghan official also said fighting between supporters of rival warlords in northwestern Afghanistan killed four people.

The 70-year-old woman and her 30-year-old son were killed Monday in the village of Daigh, about five miles north of Musa Qala in the southern province of Helmand, said Amir Mohammad Akhunzada, the province’s deputy governor.

Akhunzada did not identify the two but said the woman’s son-in-law worked for the police. After the slaying, the militants threatened to kill anyone working for the government, he said.

“This hanging is totally against Islam,” Akhunzada said. “They use the name of Islam to go against Islam.”

3 in Coalition suffer injuries
The U.S. military said about 30 insurgents fired rockets and guns at a U.S. base late Tuesday in mountainous Nuristan province near the Pakistan border.

The statement said 15 insurgents were killed and two U.S. soldiers and one Afghan policeman suffered minor injuries. The base, which serves at the center of reconstruction projects for the region, was not damaged, it said.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks in southern Afghanistan this year. More than 900 people have died in violence since May, mostly militants killed in fighting with security forces.

The violence, the deadliest since the Taliban regime’s ouster in late 2001, has underscored the weak grip of the government of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai, particularly in the volatile south and east of the country.

Also in Musa Qala, British troops in a NATO-led security force accidentally shot and killed an armed Afghan policeman wearing civilian clothes after mistaking him for an insurgent outside a base Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defense said.

Restoring calm
Meanwhile, in the northwest of Afghanistan, some 400 militants were involved in clashes Monday in the Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province between forces loyal to rival ethnic Uzbek warlords Abdul Rashid Dostum and Abdul Malik, said Gen. Taj Mohammad, the Afghan National Army corps commander in northern Afghanistan.

Dostum is the current chief of staff of the Afghan Army’s High Command.

At least one civilian was among the four people killed, and hundreds of others fled the fighting, Mohammad said.

The army and police sent hundreds of troops to restore calm and detained Khalem Salem, a Malik supporter who was involved in the fighting, Mohammad said.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the clashes, but the two groups had clashed 10 days earlier over a political dispute, leaving four dead.

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