NATO ground troops called in air and artillery support during clashes with rebel forces of around 100 fighters in southern Afghanistan in one of the bloodiest weekends this year, officials said Sunday.
Most of the violence, which struck on the day Afghanistan celebrated its independence from Britain in 1919, was in the south where a NATO-led force took command three weeks ago in the alliance's toughest military operation yet.
In the deadliest clash, scores of rebels attacked the town of Panjwayi in Kandahar province late Saturday, sparking a five-hour series of battles involving Afghan and NATO security forces, officials said.
Scores of Taliban stormed the town, about 35 kilometres (20 miles) west of the main southern city of Kandahar, from three directions and began fighting with the local police.
Reinforcements from the Afghan army and police and NATO's International Security Assistance Force surrounded the area and returned the attack, a police official said.
ISAF ground forces called upon air and artillery support, the force said in a statement.
"We have 35 Taliban bodies in Panjwayi town and 11 out of the town," district governor Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi told AFP. Another 25 bodies were found in nearby Sperwan village, he said.
The defence ministry said it could confirm only 60 bodies had been found in Panjwayi town and Sperwan. An Afghan soldier and four policemen were also killed, the security forces said.
The area is the birthplace of the Taliban movement that was ousted from government nearly five years ago and has been joined by Al-Qaeda in a growing insurgency marked by suicide and roadside bombings.
Panjwayi has seen major clashes that have left scores of people dead this year with security officials saying they are determined to root out rebel operatives.
A suicide bomb in the town's bazaar on August 3 killed 21 civilians in one of the bloodiest such attacks in the insurgency.
Afghan officials also announced Sunday that six policemen and four Taliban rebels were killed when militants attacked a border police patrol in the western province of Nimroz.
Three policemen and five Taliban were also wounded in the clash Saturday in Delaram district which has seen several Taliban-linked attacks including against foreign nationals working on road construction projects.
The US-led coalition that helped to topple the Taliban in late 2001 announced on Saturday that four of its soldiers were killed in other clashes that day.
Source:AFPGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16