Fighting erupts near power lines to Afghan capital: officials

Afghan security forces take their positions at the hilltop of Dand Ghori district of Baghlan province, Afghanistan March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Fighting has broken out between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants in an area in the north where battles destroyed power lines early this year, officials said on Wednesday.

The insurgents destroyed power lines in the area in Baghlan province in January, causing nearly a month of power cuts in the capital and adding to concern over Taliban gains in various places since most foreign troops withdrew in late 2014.

Taliban forces had captured two government outposts in clashes overnight in the area north of Kabul, not far from the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri, said police spokesman Zabiullah Shuja.

Thirteen insurgents were killed, along with one civilian and one policeman, he said. Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

After the January attacks on the grid bringing electricity from central Asia, it took security forces weeks to secure the area and get technicians in to make repairs.

Taliban insurgents still freely operate in the area, schools are closed, and people are afraid to leave their homes, said one resident, Mohammed Hussain.

Government troops had launched an offensive to blunt the Taliban advance in the area and the situation had stabilized, said Baghlan provincial governor Abdul Satar Barez.

Reporting by Zakaria Nasery; Writing by Josh Smith; Editng by Robert Birsel