Taliban insurgents capture district, 4 Afghan police killed

Other News Materials 15 August 2008 19:25 (UTC +04:00)

Taliban militants overran a district in southern Afghanistan Friday after four policemen were killed in a blast in the same region, officials said, reported dpa.

Hundreds of Taliban militants overran Nawah district in southern Ghazni province on Friday morning after the local authorities and police forces left the district, said Mohibullah Khepilwak, the district administrative chief.

"We were under severe pressure by the Taliban militants for the past several days," Khepilwak told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by phone from the province, adding, "We had asked the government to send reinforcement, but nobody was sent."

"In order to avoid casualties, we have tactically withdrawn from the district and as we get reinforcement we will recapture the district," he said, adding that according to the information he had received from the area, the Taliban burned the headquarters for the district.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid also confirmed that their forces had captured the district without any resistance by the "Afghan and foreign forces."

The Taliban also claimed that their forces captured Marja district in southern Helmand province after several days of fierce fighting, another rebel spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, said.

But Mohammad Hussain Andewal, provincial police chief of Helmand province said that police only left two posts in the district on Thursday, while the rest of the district was under control of government forces.

Zemaria Bashary, interior ministry spokesman also confirmed that police forces left two of the posts in the district, adding, "After some 15 police forces were killed in the past two weeks, we decided to leave those two posts in the district."

Taliban militants captured and controlled Musa Qala district in the same Helmand province for around 10 months last year before the Afghan and British forces drove them out.

Meanwhile, four policemen were killed and five others were wounded when their vehicle was struck by a roadside mine in Gerishk district of the southern province of Helmand on Thursday evening, Andewal said.

He said that police forces were patrolling in the area when the attack happened.

Taliban militants took responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on the rebel website, saying that the explosion killed seven police officers.

US-led coalition forces also said in statements on Friday that their forces killed three suspected Taliban militants in two separate clashes in southern Kandahar and Helmand province.

More than 2,600 people - mostly insurgents, but including Afghan and international forces as well as civilians - have been killed in violence so far this year.