Taliban capture 30 Afghan policemen

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The Independent Online

Taliban rebels ambushed a police convoy in southern Afghanistan, taking at least 30 officers and a police chief captive, officials said yesterday.

Taliban rebels ambushed a police convoy in southern Afghanistan, taking at least 30 officers and a police chief captive, officials said yesterday.

The attack on the convoy occurred on Thursday as the police were travelling on a road north from Kandahar to the district of Miana Shien, 60 miles north-east of Kandahar, said the deputy provincial police chief General Salim Khan. "They fought for two hours," said Gen Khan. "We have tried to reach our men by satellite phone, but they are not responding."

Gen Khan said all the men are believed to have been captured. He denied reports that dozens of Taliban later attacked Miana Shien, or that the town of the same name was under Taliban control. "The town is in our control and there was no attack," he said.

Rebels also attacked a government office yesterday in Zabul province's Daychopan district and an ensuing two-hour gun battle left four insurgents dead. The attackers fled after US helicopters arrived to back up the Afghan troops on the ground.

In Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kot district, fighting on Friday between Afghan soldiers and Taliban rebels left two insurgents dead and three wounded. There has been a major increase in attacks across the country since March, when snow melted on mountain passes used by the insurgents. About 240 suspected rebels and 29 US troops have been killed in the surging violence, according to Afghan and US officials.

Meanwhile, aeroplanes loaded with food, tents and other emergency supplies rushed to northern Afghanistan yesterday after floods left dozens dead and thousands homeless, officials said.

About 700 homes and several roads have been washed away in the floods over the past four days. The exact death toll is not known, but at least 25 people are thought to have been killed in Badakhshan with more than 50 estimated to have died across northern Afghanistan.

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