24 killed in Afghanistan violence (Lead)

March 23rd, 2009 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, March 23 (DPA) Eight policemen and 16 Taliban insurgents were killed in fighting in Afghanistan Monday, officials said.
The eight policemen were killed and one wounded when their patrol was ambushed by militants with the Islamic extremist Taliban in the Rabat area of Spin Boldak district in southern Kandahar province Monday morning, said Saheb Jan, a highway police commander in the region.

Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack and said their fighters killed seven government troops and wounded several in their pre-dawn ambush.

The poorly trained and equipped Afghan police bear the brunt of Taliban-led attacks in the country. More than 2,000 policemen were killed in insurgent attacks in 2007 and 2008.

Separately, six Taliban militants, including one local commander, were killed when the explosive materials they were carrying went off, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Monday.

That incident happened Sunday in Garmsir district of southern Helmand province, it said.

Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) claimed Monday that its forces killed 10 militants including a commander in southern Afghanistan, the region which witnessed the deaths of seven foreign soldiers in separate attacks.

Taliban leader Maulawi Hassan and nine other militants were killed in a NATO operation in Kajaki district of southern Helmand province Saturday, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

The militants were killed inside their compound, it said, adding that several weapons and bomb-making materials were discovered.

“The death of Maulawi Hassan, the latest in a series of prominent insurgents and IED (improvised explosive device) facilitators, signals another serious blow to the insurgency,” a NATO statement said.

Afghanistan’s southern provinces were a Taliban stronghold during the time of their rule and have become the main hub for the insurgency.

Seven NATO soldiers, including four Canadians, were killed in separate Taliban attacks in the region in the past three days.

ISAF has more than 60,000 troops from 42 nations deployed in Afghanistan. The troops have been there since the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001. The US is planning to send 17,000 additional troops this year.

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