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Taliban Kill 20 Bodyguards In Afghanistan

KANDAHAR (Reuters) -- Taliban insurgents have ambushed the convoy of a district chief in southern Afghanistan and killed 20 of his bodyguards, an official says.

Mullah Salaam, the district chief of Musa Qala in Helmand Province and who was once a member of the ousted Taliban, survived the December 31 attack on his convoy unharmed, the provincial spokesman said.

Spokesman Dawood Ahmadi said two of the attackers were killed in a clash that followed the ambush in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold and one of the main drug-producing regions of Afghanistan, the world's top supplier of heroin.

The Taliban could not be reached for comment immediately and the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed the killing of 20 guards on the payroll of the ministry, one of the single bloodiest attacks against security forces in months.

The ministry said one woman was also killed in the attack, adding more details of the incident were expected to come.

Afghanistan is going through one of its worst spells of violence since 2005, when the Taliban began regrouping after being ousted in the U.S.-led invasion following the September 11, 2001, attacks.