KABUL: At least 17 policemen have been killed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province after “hundreds of Taliban fighters” attacked the police compound, officials said.
The attack came early on Saturday in the southern province’s Musa Qala district, an area where Afghan security forces launched a major campaign against the Taliban two months ago, notably without the backing of the foreign forces.
Sources on ground said that another 16 policemen were wounded in Saturday’s incident, part of the Taliban’s annual spring offensive.
“We are told Saturday’s attack was executed by hundreds of the Taliban fighters,” said Johnston. “Over the last six weeks, most of the reports that we’ve heard about the Taliban attacks have actually been in the north and less in the south.”
A week ago the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the group’s fighters had taken control of several checkpoints and Yamgan district centre in Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, killing several members of Afghan forces and seizing weapons.
Army forces tried to retake the district last Sunday and managed to win back the district headquarters there.
In early May, at least 18 Afghan policemen were killed in a series of Taliban attacks in Badakhshan province.
A surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on civilians, according to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties jumped 16 percent from the same period last year, it said.