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Afghan Police Killed in Taliban Attack 05/24 07:33

   KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban insurgents attacked police checkpoints 
Sunday in volatile southern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 officers in the 
ongoing assault, authorities said.

   Mohammad Ismail Hotaki, the director of Helmand province's Joint 
Coordination Office, said that Taliban fighters attacked 10 police checkpoints 
in the province's Sangin district. Hotaki said Taliban fighters captured three 
checkpoints and continued to surge forward in their assault.

   Hotaki said the violence killed at least 10 officers and wounded 16. Later, 
Sangin's deputy police chief, Haji Bari, said authorities recovered the corpses 
of at least 13 slain police officers, while 15 had been wounded. Such 
contradictory casualty figures are common amid an ongoing attack.

   "We are in control of 80 percent of the checkpoints and are currently 
fighting with Taliban at two checkpoints," Bari said. "The Taliban numbers are 
high and they are attacking with full force. This level of force shows they are 
in a strong position to fight back."

   Afghan security forces have been battling the Taliban in Helmand province 
for almost three months after launching an operation aimed at showing their 
strength ahead of the insurgents' annual warm weather offensive. Since that 
offensive began April 24, the Taliban have launched a number of attacks across 
many parts of Afghanistan.

   Police checkpoints are regular targets as they are often poorly manned and 
vulnerable. The high number of casualties suffered by police, who often bear 
the brunt of the fight against the Taliban without the same resources as the 
army, has damaged morale and created an impression of battlefield domination by 
the Taliban.

   The offensive comes as NATO and U.S. troops ended their combat mission in 
the country at the end of last year, leaving the responsibility for the fight 
against the Taliban solely on the shoulders of local Afghan forces.


(KA)


 
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