Attacks kill 11 police officers, government official in northern Afghanistan

By Associated Press
Monday, July 12, 2010

KABUL -- Militant attacks in once-calm northern Afghanistan killed at least 11 police officers and a government official, whose car was hit by a remote-controlled bomb, officials said Sunday.

In the south, NATO said a U.S. service member died Sunday after an insurgent attack and a joint coalition and Afghan patrol killed a senior Taliban commander and a dozen other insurgents who were discovered planting a homemade bomb on a road.

Insurgents as well as coalition troops have escalated attacks across the country in recent months, as the NATO-led force pours in 30,000 more U.S. troops in a new push to break the Taliban's grip over their strongholds and establish stable Afghan governance.

International and Afghan commandos have been conducting near-nightly raids to capture or kill insurgents, while the Taliban has launched attacks on army bases and local officials and has planted thousands of roadside bombs.

Insurgents in Kunduz province overran a checkpoint near the northern border with Tajikistan on Saturday, killing at least six of the nine border police officers stationed there, provincial deputy police chief Abdul Rahman Aqtash said.

Some reports said the guards were poisoned before the attack to make it easier for the insurgents, said Mahbobullah Sayedi, a spokesman for the provincial government. He said three border police officers stationed at the checkpoint were missing.

Northern Afghanistan was once relatively calm, but Taliban fighters and other militants have become increasingly active in the past two years.

On Saturday in Kunduz, militants killed the chief of Qala Zal district and his bodyguard by remotely detonating a bomb as he passed in his car, the Interior Ministry said.

Five other police officers died Saturday when their vehicle passed over a roadside bomb in northeastern Badakhshan province, which is next to Kunduz, the ministry said in a statement.

In the south, an Afghan-international force killed a Taliban commander, Malauwi Shahbuddin, and several armed insurgents Saturday in the Shahjoy district of Zabul province. A provincial spokesman, Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, said 13 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.

NATO said the commander had been moving bomb-making material and foreign fighters into the area from Pakistan. After one of the insurgents detonated a grenade near the joint security force, the troops opened fire, killing the commander and other fighters. One insurgent attempted to booby trap himself by placing a hand grenade under his body, but the bomb was safely removed, NATO said.

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