Kabul: At least 11 Afghan policemen and seven soldiers were killed on Tuesday in a Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan, while five militants were also killed during the attack on security posts, an official told Efe news agency.
Taliban combatants launched the attack early Tuesday morning in Helmand province's Nawzad district, leading to clashes that lasted four hours, according to government official Attaullah Afghan.
Five policemen were wounded in the clashes, while the coffins carrying the dead were taken to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah to be handed over to their families, Afghan explained.
"Regional chief of the Criminal Investigation Department is among the dead," the official said, adding that sporadic gunfire was still ringing out, and that some security posts had been taken over by the insurgents.
Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi claimed on his Twitter account that during the offensive, insurgents occupied six security posts, that 27 soldiers were killed and 11 others were wounded. However, the Taliban are known to be inclined to exaggeration.
Yet Ahmadi acknowledged that five insurgents had died.
The Taliban launched its spring offensive on April 24, and since then, attacks have been carried out in the northern provinces of Badakhshan, Kunduz and Badghis, taking control over several areas, in addition to the southern province of Uruzgan.
Attacks have increased despite the "informal" meetings on May 2-3 between representatives from the Afghanistan High Peace Council, the Taliban, and civil society figures in Qatar, after the terrorist group presented a series of demands for beginning peace talks.
The Council proved to be open to negotiating the conditions, and also assured the Taliban that discussions were underway with the UN to remove all parties engaged in the talks from its "blacklist", as demanded by the insurgents.