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Two-Day Battle with Taleban Rebels Ends in Afghanistan - 2003-10-16

Coalition troops in Afghanistan ended a two-day battle with suspected Taleban rebels Wednesday. Local officials say two Afghan soldiers and six insurgents died in the fighting. The two-day battle in Uruzgan province's Char Cheno district ended after insurgent forces fled into the nearby mountains.

Local Police Chief Haji Mohammed Akhtar says 12 rebels loyal to Afghanistan's former Taleban regime were taken prisoner during the fighting.

Afghan government troops and their U.S. allies tracked down some of the insurgents, attacking with ground and helicopter assaults. The attack was a reaction to Sunday's assault by suspected Taleban on local police, in which four security officers were killed.

Insurgent attacks on Afghan government targets have risen sharply over the past month-and-a-half, leaving about 300 people dead.

U.S. Air Force Major Richard Sater, at U.S. headquarters in Bagram, Afghanistan, says Taleban fighters might be stepping up attacks before the bad-weather months.

“We're coming into the wintertime and that sort of thing is a lot more difficult in the winter, so that could have something to do with the perception that perhaps things are on the rise,” he said.

Major Sater adds that on the positive side, increased attacks might also make it easier to find out where the Taleban and other insurgents are hiding.

“They show themselves, and that let's us know they're there, and then we can respond accordingly,” he said.

Most insurgent activity is blamed on Taleban remnants and is concentrated in the south and east of the country, the former regime's traditional stronghold.

But members of the al-Qaida network - blamed for the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington - and some local rebels are also believed part of the insurgency.