Ed Wray  /  AP
U.S. soldiers search Afghans at a roadside checkpoint on Friday, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
updated 3/14/2004 10:34:46 AM ET 2004-03-14T15:34:46

Suspected Taliban fighters attacked a government office near the Pakistani border, police said Sunday. Police killed three militants in response to the attack, which came hours after the U.S. military announced a new drive to crush insurgents and track down Osama bin Laden.

The attack Saturday evening in southern Kandahar province sparked a gunbattle that also left one Afghan soldier dead and two soldiers wounded, Kandahar deputy police chief Gen. Salim Khan said.

Separately, two rockets hit the capital of eastern Laghman province, killing one civilian, the province’s governor said Sunday.

A rocket tore through the roof of the man’s home late Saturday in Mehtarlam, Gov. Mohammed Ibrahim Babkerkhel said. The second rocket landed in an open field near Babkerkhel’s home, shattering windows there and at several nearby houses.

Afghan officials also said they had arrested three Taliban suspects in an operation with U.S. forces.

160 killed this year
At least 160 people have been killed in violence so far this year, highlighting the insecurity still plaguing the country more than two years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban for harboring bin Laden.

Commanders of the 13,500-strong U.S.-led force have vowed to finish off the militants and snare bin Laden as well as Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar this year.

‘Mountain Storm’ launched
The U.S. military on Saturday announced the start of “Mountain Storm” — its latest operation to track terror suspects in the south and east of the country.

Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has said his soldiers are engaged in a “hammer-and-anvil” strategy along with Pakistani forces on the other side of the border.

Some 70,000 Pakistani troops have moved into semiautonomous tribal regions to take away maneuver room for al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives believed to have taken refuge there.

About 60 Taliban fighters struck the office of the district chief in the Shorabak district, some 105 miles southeast of Kandahar city, Khan said. It was the same district where five Afghan soldiers were shot dead by two dozen armed men in January.

The tracks of their vehicles showed they came from across the border in Pakistan and retreated there after the fight, he said.

Coalition forces were not involved in the gunbattle.

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the ousted Taliban militia, who identified himself as Qari Mahmood, said “we carried out this attack.” The claim could not be independently confirmed.

In other violence,

—Three rockets were fired Sunday into Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, said Yar Mohammed Khan, a Jalalabad security official. No injuries were reported, but the explosions shattered windows and toppled walls of two homes.

—A rocket fired Saturday into the Afghan capital flew over a U.N. compound as well as the headquarters of the U.S. military and Kabul’s peacekeeping force, the peacekeepers said Sunday.

The rocket failed to detonate and landed near a sports stadium. No injuries were reported. A second rocket flew over the city’s center and exploded on an open hillside.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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