Afghanistan

Two insurgent attacks kill 16 police in Afghanistan

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Kabul_(dpa) _ A group of insurgents killed eight policemen at a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan Monday, while eight others were killed in a similar attack in a southern region, officials said.

The first attack took place in Baghlan Markazi district of the northern province of Baghlan early Monday, when a group of insurgents began "firing at the check post from all sides," Mohammad Akbar Barekzai, the provincial governor, said.

The checkpoint had been recently erected on the main highway linking Baghlan to neighbouring Kunduz province to provide security for NATO convoys in the area, he said.

One militant was also killed and another was wounded in the pre-down raid, said Ahmad Jan, a senior police official in the province. He said the militants also captured a police ranger and seized some weapons.

The Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed the incident and police casualties.

Eight other policemen were killed when Taliban militants attacked their security post in Panjau area of Lashkargah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand on Monday morning.

Afghan police have borne the brunt of eight-year Taliban-led insurgency. The poorly trained and equipped forces are more vulnerable than country's army or international troops because they are thinly stretched across the country and are present in remote areas.

The Taliban are most active in Helmand, which is also the country's largest opium-producing province. The militant group had not made any comment on Monday's attack.

But Mirwais, who claims to speak for Hezbi Islami militant group in the northern provinces, told dpa by phone from an undisclosed location that their fighters killed 15 police forces in Baghlan firefight. Like many Afghans he uses only a single name.

Hezbi Islami is a group associated with the Taliban insurgents, who have jointly waged a bloody war against the Western-backed Afghan government and more than 100,000 international troops stationed in the country.

Hezbi Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who fought against Soviet troops in the 1980s and served as prime minister during the civil war in the 1990s, is believed to be hiding near the border with Pakistan. dpa ms fp tl im

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