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17 Afghan police missing after Taliban attack: officials

AFP , Tuesday 28 Oct 2014
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At least 17 Afghan police are missing after the Taliban made a new push to seize territory in the country's northeast, officials said Tuesday.

The Taliban militants, whose government was toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001, have intensified their attacks all around the country in recent months as NATO combat forces prepare to fully withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

The insurgents' latest offensive began Saturday when they attacked the Wardoj district of Badakhshan province, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

"The Taliban attack on Wardoj has created a problem in the area. We have sent more reinforcements," he said.

"We have also lost contact with 17 of our police forces, we are trying to establish connections with them again," he added.

Afghan security forces are trying to repel the attack and find their colleagues, said provincial police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai.

"We have surrounded the Taliban in Wardoj. So far, 10 Taliban, including foreign nationals, and two police have been killed," he added.

The insurgents have also been making concerted pushes in Logar province, close to the capital, in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Faryab, and in northeastern Badakhshan province.

Though they are able to carry out deadly and destructive raids they have so far been unable to capture fresh territory.

On Monday, a group of Taliban stormed a court in northern Afghanistan and killed at least seven people including prosecutors, shooting them in their offices at close range.

Overall levels of violence have increased at the Taliban have sought to exploit the vacuum left by the exiting NATO forces.

There are now about 40,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from their 2011 peak of around 140,000.

New president Ashraf Ghani has signed a deal with the United States and NATO to allow 12,500 foreign troops, including 9,800 Americans to stay behind in 2015 to carry out military training after the alliance's combat mission ends.

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