Taliban storm district in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, killing more than 12 people

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GHAZNI, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban militants over-ran a district in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province on Thursday, killing more than a dozen people including the district’s governor before retreating, a police official said.

Ghazni’s Khawaja Omari district was considered one of the province’s safest areas.

The militants killed district governor Ali Dost Shams, his bodyguards, seven police and five government intelligence agents, said Ramazan Ali Mohseni, deputy police chief in Ghazni. At least 45 to 50 militants were killed, he said.

The Taliban then torched the district headquarters, he said. Later, the Taliban left the headquarters and government security forces returned.

Bodies wrapped in blankets were laid on the ground of the district compound by late Thursday morning.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement 20 police officers were killed in the attack.

Khawaja Omari is near the provincial capital, also called Ghazni, a city of 150,000 people 150 km (95 miles) southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Fighting in Afghanistan traditionally increases in the spring when warmer weather melts snow blocking mountain passes, increasing the mobility of the insurgents.

The Taliban usually announce the launch of a spring offensive in April.

Reporting by Mustafa Andalib in Ghazni, Afghanistan; Writing by Rod Nickel; Editing by Nick Macfie