Taleban insurgents in southern Afghanistan say they have executed a provincial police chief and are holding 30 local officials hostage.

Spokesmen for the Taleban say insurgents in Afghanistan's Kandahar province killed the police chief Sunday morning on orders from the group's religious leaders.

The officer was captured Friday night during a Taleban raid on the government's district headquarters in the southern province.

The insurgents still reportedly control the building and claim they are holding 30 other men hostage.

Khalid Pashtoon, a senior government advisor in Kandahar, says officials are trying to determine the exact number of hostages.

"The Taleban is claiming that they have those men ? and we are still waiting for the final word," said Mr. Pashtoon.

The insurgents say they are putting the men on trial for supporting Afghanistan's U.S.-backed central government.

Insurgents say they are determined to prevent parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

But U.S. and Afghan officials say the attacks will not stop the elections or weaken the country's new democracy.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says it will be a difficult struggle but he believes the Taleban will be defeated.

"It is going to take time. It is going to take persistence. It is going to take a lot of effort, but what is at stake is vital for the world so there is no alternative but success," he said.

Also on Sunday, three rockets were fired into the city of Kandahar - with one landing near a building housing U.S. troops. No deaths were reported from the attack.

Coalition forces say they have killed more than 150 insurgents in the past four months and are stepping up their security patrols in the restive southern provinces.