The estimates of Taliban fighters and suicide bombers killed ranged up to 87, with 15 Afghan police, an American civilian, an Afghan civilian and a Canadian soldier also killed in the multiple attacks late Wednesday and Thursday, officials said.
The battles between Afghan or coalition forces and Taliban militants, which were concentrated in the south, follow months of stepped-up attacks in the region.
An assault by hundreds of enemy fighters on a small southern town was one of the largest attacks by militants since 2001 and marked another escalation in the campaign by supporters of the former Taliban regime to challenge the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, the AP reports.
The attack late Wednesday and early Thursday on a police and government headquarters in Musa Qala in Helmand province sparked eight hours of clashes with security forces. The Interior Ministry said about 40 militants were killed, though police said they had retrieved only 14 bodies.
The Interior Ministry said 13 police were killed and five wounded in the attack some 150 kilometers (95 miles) northwest of Kandahar.
The assault was countered by Afghan police reinforcements who eventually forced the militants to flee, said Capt. Drew Gibson, a spokesman for the British military, which has forces in Helmand province.
The U.S.-led coalition, meanwhile, said up to 27 Taliban militants were killed during an operation in neighboring Kandahar province Thursday. The military said there were seven confirmed deaths and that 15 to 20 may have been killed in an associated airstrike near the village of Azizi.
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