updated 10/31/2010 10:38:15 AM ET 2010-10-31T14:38:15

NATO and Afghan troops killed 17 insurgents in an hours-long gunbattle in southern Helmand province, an Afghan official said Sunday.

Saturday's fighting lasted 12 hours and took place in the Dishu district, said provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi.

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NATO and Afghan troops began pushing into the insurgency's stronghold in the south in July. The have established some pockets of security, but attacks have increased in other areas of the country.

Also on Sunday, militants attacked a convoy carrying supplies for the police, Education Ministry, and the U.N.'s World Food Program in western Nimroz province, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Jabar Pardeli. Six militants were killed and one policeman was wounded in the gunbattle, which lasted for more than two hours.

In a separate incident, NATO said that an airstrike on Thursday killed a Taliban leader and another militant in southern Zabul province as he was showing his fighters a new anti-aircraft heavy machine gun mounted on the back of his vehicle.

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