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Taliban Attacks on Afghan Security Forces Continue Unabated

Eleven security forces were killed in a Taliban attack in Helmand late on Wednesday. Army and police deaths have soared since the US and NATO ended their combat mission in Afghanistan last year.
June 18, 2015, 12:50pm
Photo by Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA

At least 11 members of Afghanistan's security forces have been killed in an attack by the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand — the latest in a string of assaults by the militant group which have rocked the region since international combat forces pulled out of the country.

Officials confirmed on Thursday that four soldiers and seven police officers were killed when militants struck government buildings in the district of Musa Qala.

"In the last few days, many police posts and security posts have come under attack," Omar Zwak, the governor of Helmand, told VICE News. "Unfortunately, last night, the police post in Musa Qala was overrun by the Taliban. As a result, 11 Afghan National Security Forces personnel were killed."

Saqi Jan, a police logistics expert in the district, said police had now regained control of the area after several hours of fighting.

Musa Qala also saw heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban on June 13, when the militant group overrun police checkpoints and killed at least 20 officers. Last month, an attack by the Taliban in the district of Naw Zad left at least 19 police officers dead.

Related: Afghan Security Forces Repel Taliban Guesthouse Attack

Afghan forces are fighting alone this year after the US and NATO ended their combat mission at the end of last year, and their casualties are soaring. Between January 1 and May 7, 2,322 army, police and local police personnel were killed, 53 percent more than the same period in 2014, according to NATO.

After a meeting with the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in March, US President Barack Obama agreed to slow down the withdrawal of US troops from the country, while acknowledging: "Afghanistan is still a dangerous place."

"The way it's going to become less dangerous is by Afghan security forces­ being capable of keeping law and order and security in the country, and that is not going to happen if foreign forces­ are continually relied upon," he said.

There has also been concern about the Islamic State operating within the country. The Taliban recently issued an open letter warning that IS should keep out of Afghanistan.

Signed by the deputy Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and addressed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it read: "Jihad against the American invaders and its puppets should be carried out under a single flag, a single leadership, and a single order."

Related: The Taliban Tells the Islamic State to Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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