Dozens of Afghan police officers have been killed in two attacks claimed by the Taliban in north and central Afghanistan, just days before parliamentary elections that the militants have threatened to disrupt.
A militant assault on security outposts in the northern Samangan region on October 16 killed several police officers, including a deputy provincial police chief, provincial Governor Abdul Latif Ibrahimi said.
Taliban fighters attacked and overran several checkpoints overnight in the district of Dari Suf, including the provincial head of police intelligence, provincial council members Sefatullah Samangani and Mohammad Pazir Baseej said.
Ibrahimi said seven police officers were killed and another five were wounded in the attack. He said the attackers made away with two armored personnel carriers, a police vehicle and an ambulance.
Samangani and Baseej said the number of the dead could be as high as 20.
Several members of the security forces fled following the intense fighting and it was not known where they were, the officials said.
In the central province of Daikundi, hundreds of militants equipped with heavy weapons attacked checkpoints in the Kajran district.
Eight Afghan soldiers and five police were killed in the hours-long battle, Ali Akbar Nateqi, the provincial governor’s spokesman said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for both attacks, claiming that 30 police officers were killed in Samangan and 19 were killed in Daikundi, with large quantities of weapons and equipment and captured.
The attacks did not appear to have a direct link with elections on October 20.
But they highlighted the strength of the Taliban, who controls large parts of the country and has stepped up attacks on Afghan security forces and government facilities in recent months.
On October 14, the Taliban attacked an army base in western Afghanistan, killing 17 Afghan soldiers. They also overran two checkpoints near the base, seizing weapons and ammunition.
With reporting by dpa and AP