Five civilians, 15 Taliban killed in clash, blasts in Afghanistan

Four civilians and 13 Taliban were killed in a clash in western Afghanistan, while one Afghan civilian and three militants were killed in suicide and roadside bomb blasts elsewhere, officials said Sunday.

A group of Taliban fighters attacked a tribal chief's house in Mugur district of western Badghis province on Saturday night, killing the man, his daughter-in-law and two of his supporters, said Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, spokesman for police forces in western region, dpa reported.

"Hafizullah, his daughter-in-law and two other men who came to protect the tribal chief were killed by the attackers," he said, adding that police units arrived at the scene, triggering a new round of clash.

At least 13 militants were killed in the firefight that continued until early Sunday morning, but there were no casualties among Afghan police, he said.

Hafizullah, who served a commander for the Afghan warriors in their fight against the Soviet troops in 1980s, was a supporter for the Western-backed Afghan government and had recently been publicly denouncing the Taliban-led insurgency in the country.

Separately, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-packed vest among local villagers in a market in Samkanai district of southeastern province of Paktia on Saturday, killing one civilian and wounding nine, Rohullah Samoon, spokesman for the provincial governor said.

He said no Afghan government officials or foreign military forces were present in the area at the time of blast.

But taking responsibility for the attack, Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for Taliban militants said that the bomber targeted an intelligence official and his agents in the area.

In another incident, two Taliban militants were killed when the bomb they were planting on a road in Arghandab district of southern Kandahar province on Saturday, went off prematurely, Afghan interior ministry said in a statement.

Taliban militants, who lost power in late 2001 in a US-led military invasion, continue to attack Afghan and NATO troops in the country, despite the presence of more than 65,000 international forces.

The militants have steadily gained power in the past three years and extended their writ to larger swathes of the country in 2008. The militants have vowed to increase their attacks in 2009.

The US military, which has more than 32,000 soldiers in the country, has announced to deploy up to 30,000 more troops in the coming months to contain the insurgency this year.

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