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Fighting in Southern Afghanistan Kills 12

May 20, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) _ Suspected Taliban rebels ambushed two Afghan army convoys in the country’s south, setting off gunbattles that killed 10 militants, an Afghan soldier and a civilian, the Afghan military said Saturday.

Fighting also erupted between the insurgents and U.S. forces in the south and an American soldier was killed and six others wounded, the U.S. military said.

The first attack against the Afghan army convoys occurred late Friday in a desert in Helmand province, killing six rebels, the soldier and the civilian, said Gen. Rehmatullah Raufi, the head of the Afghan military’s southern region. Three other Afghan troops were wounded.

Fighting still raged in Helmand on Saturday, causing an unknown number of casualties on both sides, the general said.

The second ambush occurred in Zabul province Saturday and four Taliban rebels were killed as the troops returned fire, Raufi said.

In the western city of Herat, an explosion ripped through a vehicle carrying former warlord Amanullah Khan, wounding him, said Gulam Sarwar Haydari, the city’s deputy police chief.

The latest bloodletting comes days after a 24-hour storm of violence killed some 120 people across Afghanistan. The fighting was among the heaviest since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, raising fears for the country’s future.

The U.S. soldier was killed in southern Uruzgan province Friday, the coalition said. The six wounded soldiers were in stable condition.

In the past year, Uruzgan has been the site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan, but militants suffered high losses in multiple battles with coalition forces, and the violence there has subsided in recent months.

At least 235 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

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