KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An air strike killed 30 Taliban in southeastern Afghanistan close to the border with Pakistan and Afghan police killed 18 more militants in the south of the country, officials said on Wednesday.
Violence has surged in Afghanistan this year as the hardline Islamist Taliban have stepped up their campaign of guerrilla attacks backed by suicide and roadside bombs to oust the pro-Western Afghan government and drive out foreign troops.
International troops called in the air strike in which 30 Taliban fighters were killed after the militants attacked a convoy of foreign troops and Afghan forces in the Sarobi district of Paktika province near the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, the deputy provincial governor said.
“Only six of our police were wounded in the Taliban attack,” Abdul Malik said, adding there were no casualties among foreign troops in the incident.
Also on Tuesday, 18 Taliban were killed in a clash with police in the Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province, one of the main bastions for the Taliban, the provincial police chief said. He said police suffered no losses.
The Taliban could not be reached for comment and independent verification of the deaths was not possible.
Separately on Tuesday, four police died when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in Ghazni province, which lies on the main highway linking Kabul with western and southern regions, an official said.
Writing by Sayed Salahuddin, Editing by Paul Tait