Afghan Official: 17 Insurgents Killed in South

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan official says NATO and Afghan troops killed 17 insurgents in an hours-long gunbattle in southern Helmand province.

Provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi said Sunday that the fighting lasted 12 hours and took place in the Dishu district.

NATO and Afghan troops began pushing into the insurgency's stronghold in the south in July. The have established some pockets of security, but attacks have increased in other areas of the country.

In a separate incident, NATO said Saturday that an airstrike killed a Taliban leader in southern Zabul province as he was showing his fighters a new anti-aircraft heavy machine gun mounted on the back of his vehicle. The coalition says Thursday's airstrike also killed one of his fighters.