Taliban insurgents trying to seize a southern Afghan city killed 14 people including 10 policemen in a co-ordinated attack which started with a car bombing yesterday, officials said.
The assault was the militants’ latest attempt to capture the besieged Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah after they gradually expanded their foothold across the opium-rich province.
“The enemy attacked to breach the security belt in Lashkar Gah this morning, but the attack was repelled by Afghan security forces,” said interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
He said seven militants were killed but did not give a figure for other deaths.
An official source said on condition of anonymity that, apart from the insurgents, 14 people including 10 police were killed and 10 wounded.
The early-morning attack began with a car bombing in an attempt to break through the security belt, a security source and local residents said.
“They seized a check post for an hour before they were pushed back by afghan special forces,” said a local elder, Maulawi Hanafi.
The Taliban have waged an insurgency against the western-backed Kabul government since being toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001. They have intensified attacks across the war-torn country in recent months, pressuring Afghan forces stretched on multiple fronts.
In the north of the country, nearly 24,000 residents have been forced to leave the city of Kunduz due to ongoing fighting between security forces and Taliban militants, according to the UN.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said late Sunday most internally displaced persons (IDPs) had moved to the cities of Taloqan, Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Pul-e Khurmi.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Refugees the number of those forced to flee could rise up to 100,000.
“Shelter, sanitation, food, and medical assistance to wounded, children, pregnant/lactating mothers and chronically ill IDPs are most important,” OCHA said.
The Taliban attack on Kunduz started on October 3, a year after the militant group took hold of the strategically important city for two weeks before being driven out by Afghan forces.
Local officials and residents say little has changed over the past week while the Afghan government claims to have cleared the city of insurgents with fighting ongoing outside city limits.
According to media reports, the US has conducted more than 20 airstrikes to aid Afghan forces in the fighting.
Afghanistan on Friday marked the 15th anniversary of the invasion.
The campaign has become Washington’s longest military intervention since Vietnam.
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