Taleban attack kills at least 11 Afghan policemen

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taleban launched a multi-pronged attack on a district headquarters in a remote district in northern Afghanistan early yesterday, killing at least 11 policemen and triggering a gun-battle that was still underway hours later, officials said.

The attack on the Shortepa district headquarters in northern Balkh province started early in the morning, according to spokesman for the Provincial Governor Munir Ahmad Farhad. Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents had overrun the compound.

Farhad denied the claim, saying Afghan security forces were still in control of the district headquarters and that reinforcements were on their way to Shortepa.

The district is very remote, said Head of the Balkh Provincial Council Mohammad Afzel Hadid adding that he fears the casualty toll could rise further unless reinforcement arrives promptly.

“I hope reinforcements arrive sooner rather than later, it is a remote area with very poor communications,” he said.

Taleban attacks have continued unabated even as Afghanistan held presidential elections last Saturday and the United States (US)-Taleban talks over a peace deal collapsed last month.

There were at least 68 attacks by the Taleban 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 Taleban control or in places where insurgents could threaten nearby villages.

Results of the vote are not due for weeks. The Taleban control or hold sway over roughly half the country now and they had warned voters not to participate in the election.