KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban rebels ambushed a police convoy in southern Afghanistan, taking at least 10 officers and a district police chief captive, while fighting elsewhere left six insurgents and an Afghan soldier dead, officials said Saturday.
The attack on the convoy occurred Thursday as it was traveling from Kandahar to the district of Miana Shien (search), about 60 miles northeast of Kandahar, said deputy provincial police chief Gen. Salim Khan.
"They fought for two hours," Khan said. "We have tried to reach our men by satellite phone, but they are not responding."
Khan said all the men are believed to have been captured.
He denied reports that dozens of Taliban later attacked the capital of Miana Shien, which goes by the same name, or that the town was under Taliban control.
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara (search) said he had no reports that the town had been attacked or occupied.
There have been a series of attacks in the district. Last July, suspected Taliban rebels killed the police chief and burned a government office.
In other violence, rebels attacked a government office Saturday in Zabul province's Daychopan district and an ensuing two-hour gunbattle left four insurgents dead, said provincial spokesman Ali Khail. The attackers fled after U.S. helicopters arrived to back up the Afghan troops on the ground, he said.
On Friday, rebels detonated a bomb hidden next to a road in nearby Helmand province as a government vehicle was passing, said Mohammed Wali, spokesman for the provincial governor. A soldier in the vehicle was killed, he said.
In Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kot (search) district, fighting Friday between Afghan soldiers and Taliban rebels left two insurgents dead, local army commander Gen. Muslim Amid said.
Attacks across the country have increased since March, when snow melted on mountain passes used by the insurgents. About 240 suspected rebels and 29 U.S. troops have been killed in the recent violence, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Also Saturday, An Italian aid worker who was held hostage in Afghanistan thanked the Asian nation's president and people for their efforts in helping secure her release.
Clementina Cantoni was released unharmed in Kabul, the Afghan capital, on June 9 after about three weeks in the hand of her abductors. She was working with CARE International.
"I want to reassure you that the action of a few criminals has not changed the opinion I have of the Afghan people. On the contrary, they have reinforced the deep respect and love I feel for them," Cantoni said in a video message expected to be released on Afghan TV.
Cantoni has said she does not expect to return to Afghanistan soon.