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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Afghan Taliban kill police in Wardak and Ghazni

At least 10 officers killed in two days of fighting for control of key highways 

Afghan security personnel on patrol in Ghazni after a Taliban attack on the city in August 2018. AP Photo
Afghan security personnel on patrol in Ghazni after a Taliban attack on the city in August 2018. AP Photo

At least 10 policemen died in clashes with Taliban fighters in the central Afghan province of Wardak, officials said on Sunday, amid fighting to wrest control of important highways a day after the insurgents blew up bridges.

The Taliban set fire to a government building in Wardak's Sayeed Abad district and killed the district police chief along with nine other officers on Saturday night, a senior police source said.

Repeated assaults on strategically important provinces, such as Wardak and nearby Ghazni, have been a show of strength by the Taliban, underscoring how volatile security remains in Afghanistan two weeks before parliamentary elections.

Afghan security forces killed at least 25 Taliban insurgents, government officials said. Reinforcements from neighbouring provinces were sent to regain control of the contested highways.

Officials said Afghan forces drove out Taliban insurgents from the highway that connects the capital, Kabul, to the major southern city of Kandahar.

Abdul Rahman Mangal, a spokesman for Wardak's governor, said the Taliban raided civilian homes after killing the 10 policemen, destroyed newly built checkpoints and cut power to some parts of the city.

Afghanistan’s power company said major power lines serving Wardak and Ghazni were cut. The power cuts also affected parts of the nearby provinces of Logar and Paktia.

A statement from the Taliban's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the insurgents took the centre of Sayeed Abad and all surrounding security checkpoints, killing members of the security forces and seizing weapons, ammunition and vehicles.

Mohammad Arif Noori, a spokesman for Ghazni's governor, said one soldier was killed by Taliban fighters as they tried to take parts of the province nearly two months after being pushed back from its main city by US-backed Afghan forces.

The Taliban attacked Ghazni, a strategically important centre straddling the main highway linking Kabul with Afghanistan's south, in August. It was the largest tactical operation launched by the insurgents since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015.

That confrontation killed 150 members of the security forces and 95 civilians, as well as hundreds of Taliban fighters.

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