English teacher among latest casualties in Afghanistan

KABUL – Taliban insurgents killed a man teaching English courses in eastern Afghanistan, sparking a clash that left two suspected militants and two policemen dead, an official said Thursday.

U.S. coalition forces, meanwhile, killed several suspected militants in the south. In eastern Paktika province, the Taliban on Wednesday killed an Afghan who was teaching English language classes, said Din Mohammad Darwesh, spokesman for the provincial governor. The ensuing battle with local authorities left two suspected militants and two policemen dead, he said.

The Taliban frequently threaten and target civilians for activities they consider sympathetic to foreign countries, international aid groups or forces. The militants often accuse them of being spies.

In southern Helmand province, U.S.-led coalition forces were searching compounds Wednesday when a gunfight broke out between troops and militants holed up in several buildings and hiding among trees, the coalition said in a statement. The forces responded with gunfire and air strikes, killing “several militants.”

Acting on intelligence, the coalition forces searched the area and detained seven people suspected of being linked to foreign fighters and weapons facilitators in the area, it said. One of the suspects was wounded while resisting arrest. The troops also recovered and destroyed a weapons and ammunition cache.

Helmand has been the front line between foreign forces and insurgents in recent months and has seen some of the bloodiest fighting in the last two years. It is also the largest opium-producing area in the world.

It is estimated more than 5,800 people, mostly militants, have died in insurgency-related violence this year, a record number.

In Uruzgan province, the coalition said the Taliban allegedly opened fire on several homes Tuesday after villagers in the area refused the militants food and supplies. One woman suffered a gunshot wound to the hand, the coalition said.

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