updated 10/11/2005 1:54:17 AM ET 2005-10-11T05:54:17

Suspected Taliban rebels ambushed a police convoy in southern Afghanistan and killed 19 officers, the deadliest attack on police in several months, an official said Tuesday.

The convoy of 150 police was attacked late Monday while driving down a dirt road along the side of a mountain in Helmand province, said Interior Ministry spokesman Yusuf Stanikzai.

Dozens of insurgents opened fire on the convoy, sparking a gunbattle that last into the early hours of Tuesday, he said.

Among the 19 dead was Helmand’s deputy police chief, Stanikzai said.

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