Afghan forces attacked by Taliban


Five Afghan policemen died in a Taliban attack on a security checkpoint near a copper mine, officials said, a day after the insurgents resumed operations against local forces.

A Taliban spokesman did not confirm or deny responsibility for the attack in eastern Afghanistan when contacted by Reuters, saying he was collecting information.

The militants had a reduction of violence arrangement in place before the signing of a troop withdrawal agreement with the United States in Doha on Saturday.

On Monday they ended that for Afghan forces, while holding back on fighting American and foreign troops, according to sources.

Tuesday’s “heavy clash” killing five Afghan officers was at a checkpoint at Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar province, said Deedar Lawang, a spokesman for the Logar provincial governor.

Hasib Stanekzai, head of Logar provincial council, told Reuters the policemen were soft targets in the early morning attack as they had no heavy weapons.

A senior US official said the attack was being investigated.

A spokeswoman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry said in 24 hours, the Taliban carried out 33 attacks against Afghan forces in 16 provinces, killing six civilians. She did not say how many Afghan security force members died.

“Taliban should give up killing civilians, otherwise Afghan National Security forces take action and eliminate them in defence of our people,” said spokeswoman Marwa Amini.

US-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.

The nation has been in stalemate since, with Taliban forces controlling some territory but unable to capture major urban centres.

The weekend agreement envisages a full withdrawal of US and coalition forces in 14 months, dependent on security guarantees by the Taliban.

“If the announcement of resumption of violence by Taliban is verified, this is against the spirit of the agreement signed in Doha,” tweeted the European Union’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia.