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Six police, U.S. soldier, killed in Afghan violence

Taliban insurgents attacked a police post on Friday killing six policemen as gunmen opened fire on a patrol in a separate incident, killing a U.S. soldier, officials said.
/ Source: Reuters

Taliban insurgents attacked a police post on Friday killing six policemen as gunmen opened fire on a patrol in a separate incident, killing a U.S. soldier, officials said.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan since the Taliban announced last month they had launched a spring offensive in their campaign to rid the country of foreign forces and topple the Western-backed government.

A senior government official in the southern province of Kandahar said the six police were killed in an attack on their post in the Maiwand district in the early hours of Friday.

A Taliban spokesman said by telephone from an undisclosed location Taliban fighters carried out the attack and seven policemen had been killed.

The U.S. military said a patrol came under small-arms fire in the central province of Uruzgan while investigating a weapons cache. One U.S. soldier was killed and an Afghan army man was wounded, it said.

Thirteen American troops have been killed in an intensified Taliban insurgency this year. Nearly 60 Americans were killed last year, the worst for U.S. forces since they invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban from power.

NATO troops arriving
The U.S. military did not say who the gunmen were believed to be but Uruzgan is a known Taliban hotspot.

“We will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy and help the Afghan National Army bring security to the people of Afghanistan,” U.S. military spokesman Thomas Collins said in a statement.

The wounded Afghan soldier was evacuated to the southern city of Kandahar for treatment.

Despite the rising violence, the United States is planning to trim its force of more than 19,000 troops in Afghanistan by several thousand, while NATO partners, including Britain, Canada and the Netherlands, are sending thousands more.

Up to 1,600 Dutch troops will move in to Uruzgan in coming months as a NATO-led peacekeeping force expands into the volatile south.

About 2,200 Canadian troops are based in Kandahar while about 3,300 British troops will in coming weeks be arriving in another violence-plagued southern province, Helmand.

Mohayouddin Khan, spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor, said aircraft of a U.S.-led international force had bombed a district in the south of the province on Thursday, inflicting an unknown number of casualties.

A resident of the Deshu district, Faisal Mohammad, said 14 civilians had been killed and two wounded in the bombing.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said she had no immediate information about any operation in the area.