Afghan officials: Taliban attack kills at least 11 policemen

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack on a district headquarters in a remote area of northern Afghanistan early on Tuesday, killing at least 11 policemen and triggering an hourslong gunbattle, officials said.

View all (4)

Taliban attacks have continued unabated even as Afghanistan held presidential elections on Saturday, and weeks after U.S.-led peace talks collapsed.

The insurgents now control or hold sway over roughly half the country.

The attack on the Shortepa district headquarters in northern Balkh province started early in the morning, according to Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents had overran the compound.

Farhad denied the claim, saying Afghan security forces were still in control of the district headquarters. He said that Afghan reinforcements drove the Taliban from the area. "Security situation is under the control right now," he added.

There has been some destruction to the district police chief headquarters, said Farhad.

The district is very remote, said Mohammad Afzel Hadid, head of the Balkh provincial council. He also confirmed that the Taliban were defeated after reinforcements arrived.

The Taliban had casualties during the battle, said Hadid, but he couldn't provide any figure.

In a separate Taliban attack in eastern Ghazni province, at least three civilians were shot and killed by Taliban, said Ahmad Khan Serat, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

He added that six other civilians were wounded when the Taliban targeted the civilian vehicle traveling from Jaghatu district toward Ghazni city.

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the attack in Ghazni.

Last week, there were at least 68 attacks by the Taliban across the country during election day, most of them rockets fired from distant outposts. At least five people were killed, including one policeman, and scores more were wounded.

Despite upgraded security, authorities said 431 polling stations stayed closed because it was impossible to guarantee their security since they were either in areas under Taliban control or in places where insurgents could threaten nearby villages.

Results of the vote are not due for weeks.

The Afghan government was sidelined in the U.S.-Taliban talks, aimed at ending America's longest war. The Taliban have refused to negotiate with Kabul officials as they consider the Afghan government a U.S. puppet.