KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban militants shot dead a teenage boy in southeastern Afghanistan for teaching English to his classmates, police said on Thursday.
Taliban militants have killed a number of teachers and students in recent years for attending government-run schools, taking part in classes for girls or what the hardline Islamist militants consider un-Islamic subjects.
Armed men arrived at the school in the Sayed Karam district of Paktia province and grabbed a 16-year-old student and dragged him outside.
“Taliban militants took the boy out and killed him outside the school just because he was teaching English to his classmates,” said General Esmatullah Alizai, the police chief of Paktia province.
Police arrived on the scene and in the ensuing gun battle, two policemen and two militants were killed, he said.
A Taliban spokesman denied the group was involved in the killing. The militants often deny carrying out unpopular actions. The Taliban are divided into a number of factions with no unified command and individual units act with a high degree of autonomy.
Afghanistan has suffered from two years of steadily rising violence as the Taliban have reignited their campaign to overthrow the pro-Western Afghan government and eject foreign troops.
Taliban insurgents suffer heavy casualties whenever they engage with foreign troops, but there are few signs they are suffering from a shortage of recruits. Both the number of clashes and their geographical range has gone up this year.
U.S.-led coalition forces killed several militants in clashes in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Thursday, and an explosion killed a British soldier in the troubled region.
The latest clashes came in the Garmser district of Helmand province, where mostly British and U.S. troops are battling to extend Afghan government authority to a string of towns along the fertile Helmand River that cuts through the barren desert.
“During a search of compounds in the district, coalition forces encountered armed militants in multiple buildings on the compounds,” a U.S. military statement said.
“Coalition forces responded with a combination of small-arms fire; accurate, conventional munitions and precision-guided munitions killing several militants during the engagement,” the statement added.
Precision munitions normally refer to weapons launched in air strikes, but can be ground-launched weaponry.
“Precision munitions were also used to kill several other militants who were attempting to use a tree line outside one of the compounds as cover to engage Coalition forces,” it said.
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.
In a separate incident, a British soldier was killed in an explosion in the Sangin district, further north in Helmand province on Wednesday, the British Defence Ministry said.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in that period, the bloodiest since Afghan and U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban for refusing to give up al Qaeda leaders in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Writing by Hamid Shalizi, Editing by Bill Tarrant