KABUL, Afghanistan -- Five NATO service members died Tuesday from fighting in the south and east of Afghanistan, officials said, as Taliban militants ramp up attacks on Afghan and international security forces. Authorities also said that 12 Afghan police officers and six civilians have died in attacks and bombings since early Monday. Watch The Skanner News Video
The Taliban have declared a summer offensive against NATO forces and those allied with the coalition or the Afghan government, while the military alliance is preparing a major operation to quell militants in the Taliban heartland of southern Kandahar province.
Both NATO troops and Afghan security forces have been suffering heavier casualties in recent weeks. Including the latest deaths, 44 international service members have been killed so far this month, 27 of them American, nine British.
Three of the latest NATO deaths were British soldiers -- two shot dead Tuesday in separate incidents in southern Helmand province. The third died in a British hospital from injuries sustained in a firefight Sunday in Helmand, according to the British government.
A U.S. service member was killed Tuesday in a gunbattle in eastern Afghanistan, said Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for U.S. forces.
A Polish soldier was killed and two were injured Tuesday in a missile attack on a base in eastern Afghanistan, the Polish military said. Pfc. Grzegorz Bukowski, 29, was fatally injured by shrapnel from the missile, said Piotr Jaszczuk, a Polish military spokesman. The wounded soldiers were hospitalized but did not have life-threatening injuries.
Poland has lost 18 soldiers in Afghanistan, where it currently has some 2,600 troops. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said he wants to end the Polish mission here, and will ask NATO to work out a pullout timetable.
The Afghan civilians were killed in two attacks -- one a remote-controlled explosive that killed four people in Helmand, and the second a roadside bomb that killed two others in western Herat province, the Interior Ministry said.
The police deaths occurred in a number of incidents in the east and south.
Militants attacked a police checkpoint in eastern Ghazni province before dawn Tuesday, killing five officers and wounding one, said Ghazni Deputy Police Chief Nawroz Ali Nawroz. He said the attackers overran the checkpoint north of Ghazni city and made off with weapons.
On Monday, militants attacked Afghan and NATO forces outside of Jalalabad city in the east. The resulting firefight left two police officers and five attackers dead, the Interior Ministry said.
Roadside bombs killed four police officers in Wardak province and one in Kandahar province, the ministry said.
A district official, his son and a guard also were killed by a remote-controlled car bomb in a dangerous district of Afghanistan's Kandahar province.
Police in Arghandab said that district chief Abdul Jabar was on his way home when he and the two others were killed in the blast on Tuesday. Deputy police chief Fazel Ahmed Sherzad says the bomb was planted in a car and was detonated when the district chief's vehicle passed by.
A suicide bomber killed 56 people at a wedding party in Arghandab last week.
Insurgents are waging a campaign of targeted killings in Kandahar where NATO and Afghan forces are ramping up security to drive the Taliban from their spiritual homeland and bolster the Afghan central government's influence in the area.