updated 9/10/2006 6:56:14 AM ET 2006-09-10T10:56:14

NATO and Afghan forces killed 94 Taliban fighters in airstrikes and ground attacks in southern Afghanistan, while a suicide bomber on Sunday killed a provincial governor in the east, amid deepening violence across the insurgency-wracked country.

NATO said the 94 militants were killed in Kandahar province's Panjwayi and neighboring Zhari districts late Saturday and early Sunday, pushing the toll from a nine-day counterinsurgency operation there past 420. Six NATO soldiers and 14 British crew of a reconnaissance plane have also died.

Operation Medusa began Sept. 2 in Panjwayi, where hundreds of militants had mobilized just 15 miles west of the main southern city of Kandahar city, the former seat of the Taliban government overthrown by U.S. led forces in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

NATO said in a statement that the latest insurgent casualties were inflicted in four separate engagements.

Security forces have pounded insurgents in Panjwayi with airstrikes, artillery and mortars in one of the most intense military confrontations since the campaign that toppled the Islamist regime.

There has been no independent confirmation of the casualty numbers given by NATO. Purported Taliban spokesmen have disputed them.

But the anti-insurgent blitz comes amid concerns that NATO lacks enough troops to succeed in its mission.

In Poland, Gen. Ray Henault, chief of NATO's military committee, said Saturday he would formally ask the alliance's 26 member states on Monday to provide up to 2,500 more troops to supplement the 8,000 mostly British, Canadian and Dutch forces it already has in the volatile region.

Governor killed
Meanwhile in eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bombing killed three people including the governor of Paktia province outside his office on Sunday, and wounded three, police said.

The attacker, with explosives attached to his body, ran into a car carrying Gov. Abdul Hakim Taniwal, his secretary and a bodyguard, killing all of them as they left the office in the Paktia capital of Gardez, said provincial police chief Abdul Annan Raufi. Three police on duty there were wounded.

Mohammed Hanif, who claims to speak for the Taliban, claimed responsibility in a satellite phone call to an Associated Press reporter in Pakistan. Hanif said the attacker was an Afghan from Paktia province and threatened more attacks.

"Our mujahedeen will conduct similar attacks. We have prepared a group of self-sacrificing attackers," he said.

Taniwal had been governor of Paktia for about one and half years. Before that he was federal minister of mines and industry in the Cabinet of President Hamid Karzai.

Taliban-led militants have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan this year, including suicide bombings, using tactics reminiscent of insurgents in Iraq.

On Friday, a bomber in a car rammed into a U.S. military convoy near the U.S. Embassy, killing 16 people in the deadliest suicide attack since the fall of the hardline Islamic regime in late 2001. The Taliban claimed the bombing.

Taliban raid
Meanwhile, in western province of Farah, more than 100 Taliban fighters raided a government compound, killing two policemen and setting fire to several buildings, said provincial police chief Sayed Agha.

Taliban fighters riding in pickup trucks and firing rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles attacked the compound in the town Kalaigar at about 1 a.m. on Sunday. They also burned two rooms of the compound and a health clinic in the town before fleeing.

Agha said the Taliban raid was the first in Kalaigar. Resurgent Taliban fighters have been most active in southern provinces. But attacks have started occurring in the west amid intense NATO military operations targeting Taliban in the south.

Separately, Taliban militants killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded eight in an ambush in southern Zabul province's Shahjoy district Saturday, said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.

Afghan authorities also found the body of a district education chief Saturday who was kidnapped by suspected militants in central Ghazni province, said Abdul Ali Faquri, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

U.S. soldiers killed two suspected militants Sunday in a mortar barrage in the eastern Kunar province's village of Darbart after they had fired on an American-Afghan army patrol, said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Carabello.

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