KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Security forces Monday hunted for up to 100 suspected Taliban rebels after a fierce battle in southern Afghanistan, while officials said two of 11 rebels killed in the fighting were insurgent commanders.
The number of police killed in the clash Sunday in Panjwayi district of Kandahar province rose to five as a wounded officer died in hospital, said provincial spokesman Dawood Ahmadi.
One of the two dead Taliban commanders was identified as Mullah Abdul Manan, who Ahmadi claimed led a Taliban suicide squad responsible for numerous bombings. This could not be immediately confirmed.
An unknown number of civilians were also wounded in the fighting, which erupted after security forces surrounded a village where the insurgents were hiding, the spokesman said. Up to 100 rebels are believed to have fled after the battle, he said.
Meanwhile, Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces arrested seven suspected rebel bomb-makers during an operation in eastern Khost province Sunday, a U.S. military statement said.
In a separate statement, the military said an Afghan woman and child were wounded by a rocket fired at a military base in eastern Paktia province Monday.
Violence has been on the increase in Afghanistan in the past year, raising fears for this country's nascent democracy and leaving swaths of southern and eastern regions off-limits to aid workers.