Afghan policemen inspect vehicles at a checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan. File photo/ Reuters
GHAZNI: Nine Afghan policemen were killed when Taliban fighters stormed their checkpoints and launched a follow-up ambush in the eastern Afghanistan city of Ghazni, officials said on Saturday.
The assault began early on Friday when the Taliban attacked two adjacent checkpoints, Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Seerat told AFP.
The Taliban then ambushed a group of police rushing to the scene, killing the head of the local police, Seerat added.
In all, nine officers were killed and six were wounded, he said.
The toll was confirmed by Arif Noori, spokesman for the Ghazni governor.
In August, Taliban fighters briefly held the city of Ghazni before they were pushed out by US air strikes and Afghan forces.
Friday’s attack highlights the ongoing fragility of Afghanistan’s security and the risks faced by local security forces as they man vulnerable checkpoints.
President Ashraf Ghani in January said 45,000 security forces have been killed since he took office in September 2014.
On its Twitter account, the Taliban claimed to have killed 12 “soldiers,” though the group frequently exaggerates numbers.
Meanwhile in Zabul in southern Afghanistan late on Friday, Gul Islam Seyal, spokesman for the local governor, told AFP that four police were killed and two wounded after a “Taliban infiltrator” opened fire at a checkpoint.
The attacks come as the United States seeks to broker a peace accord with the Taliban and the Kabul government, more than 17 years since the US-led invasion that ousted the fighters.
Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of US-Taliban negotiations with both sides eyeing a resolution to the bloody 18-year conflict.
The Taliban have steadfastly refused to discuss peace with Ghani, whom they consider a US stooge heading an illegitimate regime.
Now is the “right moment” for peace in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday as he once more called on the Taliban to negotiate with his government.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it would expel two German diplomats from Moscow in a tit-for-tat response after Berlin last week ordered the expulsion of two Russian diplomats.
China and the United States are in close communication on trade, its commerce ministry said on Thursday, declining to comment on possible retaliatory steps if Washington imposes more tariffs on Chinese goods this weekend.
More than 4,000 polling venues across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including a windmill, several pubs, a hair salon and a chip shop, opened their doors for a day of voting that ends at 2200 GMT.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government has said the so-called Citizenship Amendment Bill that was approved by parliament on Wednesday was meant to protect besieged minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.