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Afghanistan Launches Probe into Killing of 16 People in Kandahar

Afghan authorities have opened an investigation into the killings by Afghan troops of at least 16 people, who an Afghan army officer says were Taleban insurgents but local residents say were villagers.

The governor of Kandahar province, where the incident took place late Tuesday, says a team of investigators has been sent to the area to determine the identity of the victims.

The Afghan commander earlier said his soldiers killed at least 16 suspected Taleban fighters after crossing the border from neighboring Pakistan near Spin Boldak. He said that among the dead were two Taleban commanders, who are believed to have organized several attacks.

Also late Tuesday, in neighboring Uruzgan province, Afghan soldiers killed four suspected Taleban militants.

And, a civilian was killed early Wednesday, when armed men attacked his vehicle on a key road linking the capital, Kabul, with the southern city of Kandahar.

With the warmer summer months approaching, Taleban insurgents have vowed to increase their attacks on foreign forces and the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

American-led forces overthrew the hardline Islamist Taleban regime in late 2001, following the terrorist attacks against the United States. Taleban-controlled Afghanistan had been the base of operations for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terror network.

Insurgents' continuing attacks have killed more than 1,500 people during the past year, the highest death toll since 2001.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.