A provincial official says 22 Taliban militants, including three regional commanders, have been killed in a clash in southern Afghanistan.

Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, says a band of Taliban fighters attacked two police checkpoints in Helmand's Nawzad district Thursday, taking control of the stations and forcing the officers to flee.

The police launched a counterattack with the help of an airstrike, killing 22 insurgents. Ahmadi says officials identified three men who were Taliban chiefs in Nawzad and surrounding districts among the dead. He says no Afghan forces died in the fighting.