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Three Killed in Skirmishes in Afghanistan; 130 Militants Lay down Arms
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Gun battles and firefights have claimed the lives of three people, including one police and two suspected Taliban operatives, in the troubled provinces of Zabul and Helmand in southern Afghanistan, local officials said Monday.

"A group of armed Taliban rebels attacked police patrol near Zabul's provincial capital Qalat Sunday night, killing one policeman and wounding another," a police official in Qalat city Ghulam Jilani Khan told Xinhua

On the other hand, Afghan and NATO forces launched an operation in Gereshk district of Helmand province Sunday resulting in killing two Taliban militias, police chief of Helmand province Mohammad Nabi Mullahkhil told Xinhua.

"There were no casualties of Afghan and NATO forces," he added.

This year has been witnessing increasing militancy as more than 2,600 people, mostly Taliban rebels, have been killed in Afghanistan since January. 

Meanwhile, some 130 anti-government militants laid down their arms and joined the Afghan government, according to a local newspaper report.

"As many as 130 dissidents surrendered under the government-backed National Reconciliation Commission (NRC)," daily Outlook writes.

Majority of the former rebels, mostly from the restive southern and eastern provinces, according to the daily, were loyal to the former Prime Minister Gulbudin Hekmatyar or the remnants of the ousted Taliban regime.

Twenty more militants loyal to Hekmatyar switched side and joined the government in the eastern Kunar province last week.

Nearly 2,000 militants, according to Sibghatullah Mujadadi, the head of the NRC, have laid down arms and resumed their normal lives over the past one and half year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2006)

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