Coordinated Taliban attacks in Afghan south kill six policemen
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Dozens of Taliban insurgents launched coordinated attacks on Afghan checkpoints in the south on Tuesday, killing at least six Afghan policemen, officials said, adding that a clash was going on.
Seven policemen were wounded in the attack in Helmand province, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak said. It was the latest Taliban assault this year involving many militants attacking Afghan forces.
Concern is mounting over how the 352,000 members of Afghanistan's security forces will cope after most foreign NATO-led combat troops leave by the end of next year.
Accounts of how many insurgents were involved in the attacks on the posts varied.
Zwak said up to 1,000 militants were involved but NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said there were 10 groups of 4-5 fighters each. ISAF said in a statement that the militants conducted drive-by shootings at checkpoints.
Zwak said 25 Taliban insurgents were killed.
"The insurgents want to occupy the area," Zwak said of the attack, which took place in Sangin district, just south of Kajaki, a strategically important district where U.S. Marines have battled hard against the insurgents.
Last month, hundreds of insurgents attacked Afghan security posts in the eastern province of Kunar, killing 13 people.
Insurgent attacks against civilians, government workers and Afghan security forces have increased in recent months as the Islamist Taliban, toppled by a U.S-led force in 2001, exerts increasing pressure on the Afghan government.
(Reporting by Abdul Malik, writing by Mirwais Harooni, editing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Robert Birsel)