Battles in southern Afghanistan kill more than 40

Hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed a southern Afghan town in one of the largest enemy assaults of the year as fighting in two volatile provinces killed more than 30 militants, a dozen police and a Canadian soldier, officials said Thursday.

A suicide car bomber in the western city of Herat, meanwhile, killed an American who was training police as part of a project fighting the country's illicit trade in opium and heroin. A second suicide car bomb south of Kabul killed a civilian.

The assault by hundreds of enemy fighters marked an escalation in the campaign by supporters of the ousted Taliban regime to challenge the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The attack late Wednesday on a police and government headquarters in the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province sparked eight hours of clashes with security forces. The Interior Ministry said up to 40 militants may have been killed, though police said they had retrieved only 14 bodies.

About a dozen police were killed and five wounded in the attack on Musa Qala, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northwest of Kandahar, said deputy governor Amir Mohammed Akhunzaba.

In a second attack in neighboring Kandahar province, a Canadian soldier and about 18 Taliban militants were killed late Wednesday, said Maj. Scott Lundy, a Canadian military spokesman.

U.S. and British forces provided air support, bombing Taliban positions during the fight, Lundy said.

Canadian soldiers were supporting Afghan police and soldiers in Panjwayi district when they were engaged by militants using rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire, Lundy said. A female Canadian soldier, Capt. Nichola Goddard, was killed, he said.

Three Afghan soldiers were wounded; about 35 militants were detained, he said, reports the AP.


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Author`s name: Editorial Team