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Suspected Taleban Fighters Kill 7 Afghan Policemen - 2003-09-01

In Afghanistan, suspected Taleban guerrillas have killed at least seven policemen in southern parts of the country.

Local officials say the attacks on the Afghan policemen took place along the main highway linking the south with the capital Kabul. They say a large group of suspected Taleban fighters raided a government checkpoint late Sunday, killing four policemen and taking two captive.

In another attack early Monday, suspected insurgents killed three Afghan security personnel guarding a highway construction site in Shajoi region.

Both the incidents took place near Zabul province in the south, where Afghan and U.S.-led Western forces have been trying to flush out hundreds of Taleban rebels from the mountains in Dai Chopan district. Coalition warplanes and attack helicopters have provided air support to the weeklong ground offensive.

Afghan military officials say nearly 100 Taleban fighters have been killed in the fighting, many of them in air attacks. The U.S. military said Saturday that 33 Taleban were killed during the first three days of fighting. At least one American and six Afghan soldiers have also died in the southern offensive.

Reports said Monday that Afghan and U.S. forces have surrounded the mountainous Dai Chopan region and are searching for rebel holdouts.

Taleban insurgents appear to have re-grouped and increased their attacks against local and foreign troops in Afghanistan in recent weeks.

On Sunday, U.S. military officials said two American soldiers were killed in a clash with insurgents in eastern Paktika province, which borders Pakistan. Four suspected Taleban attackers were killed in that fighting.