Afghan police said Friday that 30 security guards had been killed in a clash with Taliban fighters and that another 15 had been wounded.
"The Taliban attacked and during the fighting, which lasted the whole day, 30 guards were killed, around 15 were injured and some others were taken by the Taliban," said the deputy police chief of southern province Helmand.
The clashes took place in Helmand's volatile Sangin district on Thursday, Kamaludin Sherzai told AFP.
Officials earlier said they believed that around 12 guards had been killed when the heavy gun battles broke out between insurgents and guards working for a road construction company in Sangin.
Helmand provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said a dozen bodies were evacuated Friday to a hospital in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
"We know that they were killed during yesterday's fighting with the Taliban. We don't know whether they are guards or workers," he said.
The Taliban claimed involvement in Thursday's attack.
"We launched an attack on the road construction company along the Sangin and Gereshk road," Zabihullah Mujahed, a rebel spokesman, said by telephone, referring to the region where authorities said the fighting took place.
"We took more than 30 check posts along the road and killed more than 50 guards," he said, speaking from an undisclosed location.
The Taliban are known to exaggerate the impact of their operations.
Helmand, along with neighboring Kandahar, is one of the most unstable regions of Afghanistan, where Taliban-linked insurgents have been fighting the Kabul government for almost nine years.
The United States and NATO have 141,000 troops in the country trying to quell the intensifying war, with many new deployments heading south.
Abdul Mohammad, an employee of the road construction company, said he accompanied the bodies to the hospital.
He described the fighting as "fierce" and said at least another 20 bodies had been either left behind or removed from the battle scene.
"Yesterday the Taliban attacked us. We requested help from Afghan and foreign forces but no one helped. Lots of people were killed, I think more than 20 other bodies were left in the area or have been taken elsewhere," he said.