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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Violent Attacks Surge in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Some of the fiercest violence since the Taliban's ouster erupted Thursday across Afghanistan, with coalition forces engaging in multiple firefights, two suicide car bombs and a massive rebel assault on a small village. Up to 105 people were killed.

Much of the violence occurred in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, where thousands of extra NATO troops are scheduled to deploy this summer to counter an increasing number of attacks from a stubborn insurgency.

The Taliban death toll from fighting Wednesday night and Thursday ranged up to 87, U.S. and Afghan officials said. Also, 15 Afghan police officers, one American civilian, a Canadian soldier and an Afghan civilian were killed in the attacks.

Taliban rebels are made up of ethnic Pashtuns, the majority in Afghanistan's southern and eastern regions near the border with Pakistan. Insurgent attacks have been concentrated there, though the violence has rarely been as fierce as on late Wednesday and early Thursday.

An assault by hundreds of enemy fighters on a small southern town was one of the largest attacks by militants since 2001, and marked another escalation in the campaign by supporters of the former Taliban regime to challenge the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The attack late Wednesday and early Thursday on a police and government headquarters in Musa Qala in Helmand province sparked eight hours of clashes with security forces. The Afghan Interior Ministry said about 40 militants were killed, though police said they had retrieved only 14 bodies. The Interior Ministry said 13 police were killed and five wounded in the attack.

The assault was countered by Afghan police reinforcements who eventually forced the militants to flee, said Captain Drew Gibson, a spokesman for the British military, which has forces in Helmand province.

The U.S.-led coalition, meanwhile, said up to 27 Taliban militants were killed during an operation in neighboring Kandahar province Thursday. The military said there were seven confirmed deaths and that 15 to 20 people may have been killed in an associated air strike near the village of Azizi.

In another battle in Kandahar province, a Canadian soldier and about 18 Taliban militants were killed late Wednesday, said Major Scott Lundy, a Canadian military spokesman.

Canadian soldiers were supporting Afghan forces on a mission to oust Taliban fighters in the Panjwayi district, about 30 kilometers west of Kandahar city, when they were engaged by rocket-propelled grenades, Lundy said.

A roadside bomb in Kandahar exploded near an Afghan army convoy Thursday, wounding two civilians, police officer Sher Shah said. No soldiers were wounded.

Outside of the south, a suicide car bomber in the western city of Herat, near the Iranian border, killed an American civilian on a U.S. State Department police-training project, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Chris Harris. Two other Americans were wounded, he said.

The escalating violence in the south, with militants launching increasingly bold attacks and suicide bombings, comes as NATO prepares to take over control of security operations from the U.S.-led coalition, which has been hunting for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the region since late 2001.