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Dozens of Taliban militants had captured the district, located 200 kilometres (124 miles) southwest of Kabul, on Monday, killing one police officer as they stormed in.

“Joint operations began — with a coordinated air strike on insurgents — inside the village of Ajristan. Several insurgents have been killed and wounded,” NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

In other violence, a remote-controlled bomb destroyed a police vehicle in the eastern province of Paktia early Thursday, killing four policemen and wounding two others, said deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Dastageer Azad.

Taliban fighters also ambushed a police vehicle on patrol in the southwestern province of Farah overnight, another police official said.

“Three police were killed and another three were wounded,” said Abdul Raof Ahmadi, police spokesman for western Afghanistan.

The hardline Islamic Taliban were in government between 1996 and 2001 when they were driven out in a US-led invasion.

They are waging an insurgency which has gained pace in the past two years, claiming hundreds of lives including scores of civilians.