GHAZNI: Taliban insurgents killed 13 local policemen while they were sleeping on Friday, in an attack on their checkpoint in southeast Afghanistan, officials said.
The policemen were shot dead in the Andar district of Ghazni province, said district governor Mohammad Qasim Desiwal.
“They were asleep when their checkpoint came under attack by the Taliban and were killed by AK-47 fire,” Desiwal told the reporter.
Provincial governor Mosa Khan Akbarzada confirmed the death toll and said a delegation had been sent to the district to investigate.
The victims were members of the 18,000-strong Afghan Local Police, a village-level force formed in 2010 to provide security in areas where the better-trained national police and army are scarce.
Afghan troops and police are increasingly on the front line against the insurgents, and suffering heavier casualties, as Nato combat troops prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.
The bodies of four Afghan regular soldiers were found on Wednesday with their throats slit in Jawzjan, a day after they were kidnapped by the Taliban along the road to the northern province.
The Taliban have been waging an insurgency against the Afghan government since they were toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.
Attacks traditionally intensify in spring after the harsh winter recedes.
A total of 23 people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday, including the four soldiers and two local employees of the Red Crescent medical charity.
Gherardo Pontrandolfi, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Kabul, said those killings would make it even harder to reach people in need.
“In many areas people cannot reach hospitals or clinics safely. And the end of winter is likely to bring renewed fighting, making the problem worse,” Pontrandolfi said in a statement on Thursday.
Separately, the interior ministry in Kabul said on Friday that police have arrested five Taliban insurgents who were planning suicide attacks on civilians in the capital and in another city later this month.
The four men and one woman were detained in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Thursday and police seized four suicide bomb vests and C-4 explosives along with other weapons, the ministry said.
“They were trained outside Afghanistan’s borders and have confessed their crime,” ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told a news conference.
He said the five Afghans were linked to the Taliban and the Haqqani network and were arrested “as they were preparing to launch a co-ordinated attack on civilian facilities on April 27-28” in Kabul and Jalalabad.
However, while others make plans to flee, a new generation of educated young Afghans who have tasted new freedoms in post-Taliban times are determined to stay and rebuild their war-ravaged nation.
With the vast majority of foreign troops withdrawing by the end of next year, many predict a resurgence of the hardliners or a return to the civil war of the 1990s.
But a host of young professionals - including entrepreneurs, journalists, activists and artists - say they plan to stay to build a better future for a country that has suffered more than three decades of war.
More globally connected than any generation before them, more aware of the outside world and more urban, this new young elite will be the key driver of change in a land where half the population is under 18, said analyst Omar Sharifi.