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NATO official likens tactics of Taliban to Hezbollah's

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A senior NATO official yesterday likened the tactics of Taliban militants who hide among civilians to those of Hezbollah in Lebanon. US and Afghan forces killed an Al Qaeda suspect disguised as a woman during a raid.

Meanwhile, insurgents in western Afghanistan killed six police officers, including a new local police chief, and wounded four other officers.

Taliban-led militants have escalated attacks in recent months, sparking the deadliest fighting since the country's hard-line regime was ousted in the US-led invasion in late 2001 for hosting Osama bin Laden.

Most of the violence has taken place in volatile southern provinces where a NATO-led force took control of security from the US-run coalition on Aug. 1. Militants have used suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and ambushes with an intensity that has surprised Afghan and Western officials.

Hikmet Cetin, NATO's top civilian representative in Afghanistan, said the Taliban's method of blending in with local civilian populations after attacks is similar to a tactic used by Hezbollah and militants in his own country, Turkey, where troops are fighting separatist Kurdish guerrillas.

``This kind of strategy is very, very difficult, not only for NATO in Afghanistan, but also in other parts of the world," Cetin said at a news conference in the capital, Kabul.

Afghan and US troops killed one Al Qaeda suspect and detained 13 others yesterday in a raid on eastern Afghanistan's Khost province, seizing numerous detonators and other bomb-making materials, said Colonel Tom Collins, the chief US military spokesman.

The troops asked people inside the compound in the village of Yaqubi to surrender. Most did, but a militant disguised as a woman resisted arrest and was shot dead, Collins said.

More than 60 women and children were inside the compound at the time of the operation, he said.

Militants also fatally shot a new local police chief and five other officers in an ambush on a desert road in the volatile Dalaram district of Farah province, provincial police chief General Sayed Aqa Saqib said.

Taliban fighters have moved into the district after fleeing NATO-led military operations in southern Helmand province.

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