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Taleban Militants Kill 7 Afghan Security Officers - 2003-10-13

At least seven Afghan soldiers and police are dead following two separate pre-dawn attacks Sunday by suspected Taleban militants.

Afghan provincial officials are reporting two attacks in the country's southeast, both blamed on militants loyal to Afghanistan's former Taleban regime.

Uruzgan Provincial Governor Jan Mohammed Khan says an unknown number of Taleban fighters killed four government soldiers out on patrol. He says the attackers also set the soldiers' vehicle on fire before fleeing.

At almost the same time in neighboring Zabul province, a large Taleban force attacked a district headquarters, killing three local security officers, according to Deputy Provincial Governor Mohammed Omar.

Mr. Omar says several other security officers were taken captive, and that one Taleban attacker was killed during the incident.

He said the suspected Taleban took the dead militant and two wounded comrades with them when they fled, as is typical in such attacks.

The incidents occurred in southeastern Afghanistan, where guerrilla attacks by Taleban and other anti-government insurgents have significantly risen in recent months.

Afghan government troops and their U.S. allies are currently conducting an offensive against the insurgents in the area.

Central government officials, like Interior Minister Ali Jalali, say despite the rise in attacks, it is only a matter of time before the insurgents are defeated.

"How long? It depends on how soon we can actually build our national capacity to the point where we will be able to respond to these challenges alone, and also to the commitment of the international community," said Mr. Jalali. "… And also the cooperation of neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan, where many of these terrorist networks have established their camps."

Pakistan says it is continuing to crack down on militants attempting to cross into its territory and has launched a campaign against them in its tribal region bordering Afghanistan. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the Pakistanis must do more to stamp out the insurgent presence on its soil.