Afgan government troops on the way to area of rebel attack

2,000 Afghan security forces Wednesday rushed to an eastern province after Taliban rebels killed eight police and soldiers.

As dozens of army trucks carrying reinforcements made their way to Nuristan province, a roadside bomb exploded, killing a soldier and wounding five others, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Saher Azimi said.

By the time the troops reached the site of the attack in Nuristan, the militants had already fled into the nearby rugged mountains that stretch into neighboring Pakistan, Interior Ministry spokesman Latfullah Mashal said.

He said that dozens of rebels had assaulted a police post in the region on Tuesday, sparking a gunbattle that lasted several hours and left four soldiers and four police officers dead.

A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the attackers were wearing uniforms of Afghanistan's new U.S.-trained army.

Nuristan has been spared much of the violence that has killed more than 900 people since a major upsurge in attacks in March across other eastern provinces and the country's south. But, Nuristan does border Kunar province, where militants killed three U.S. commandos and shot down a special forces helicopter a month ago.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said he had no information on Tuesday's attack.

Afghan and American officials have warned that attacks by Taliban-led rebels are likely to increase ahead of legislative elections on Sept. 18 - the next key step toward democracy after a quarter century of war.

Elsewhere, gunmen shot dead an election official as he walked home in southern Helmand province's Lashkar Gah city Tuesday, provincial administrator Ghulam Muhiddin said.

However, Bronwyn Curran, a spokeswoman for a joint United Nations-Afghan government electoral commission, said she could not confirm an election worker had been killed.

Meanwhile, suspected Taliban rebels attacked Afghan forces in southeastern Paktika province, sparking a gunfight that left one insurgent wounded and led to the seizure of a weapons cache, the U.S. military said.

Afghan forces also detained two of the militants, who had opened fire on them Monday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Afghan police pursued the attackers into a nearby compound, where they seized a cache of bomb-making materials, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade parts and machine gun and AK-47 assault rifle ammunition, it said.

In neighboring Zabul province Monday, a local Taliban commander and 29 other guerrillas surrendered to Afghan authorities as part of a government amnesty, said a spokesman for Zabul's governor, Ali Khail.

The rebels also handed over ammunition and weapons, the AP reports.

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