Taliban gunmen have surrounded a police compound in Helmand province after killing 19 policemen and seven soldiers.
The siege, which continued into Monday night, came within hours of insurgent bombings in southern that killed 11 people and wounded dozens more admidst clashes between the Taliban and Islamic State.
Napas Khan, police chief in the Naw Zad district in Helmand, said on Monday from inside the compound that the insurgents had advanced to within 20 metres of the perimeter after seizing police vehicles and weapons and blocking all roads out of Naw Zad. “We need an immediate response from the government,” Khan said.
He said the attack started at before dawn on Monday when the insurgents overran multiple police checkpoints across the district. “They destroyed or captured most of our checkpoints and now they have reached our police headquarters,” Khan said. “They are mostly firing at us from the hills overlooking our compound.”
As Khan spoke gunfire and shouting could be heard in the background.
Government forces launched an operation against the Taliban in March, in the hope of blunting the group’s annual warm weather offensive. But the Taliban have nonetheless intensified attacks across the country, spreading government forces thin.
Before the siege a suicide truck bomb attack and a separate roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan killed 11 people and wounded dozens more, as the Taliban clashed with supporters of the Islamic State group, officials said.
Governor Asif Nang said the Taliban had been fighting with rival insurgents claiming allegiance to Isis group for three days in the western Farah province, leaving at least 10 Taliban fighters and 15 Isis supporters dead. He provided no further details.
Afghan and foreign officials differ over the extent to which Isis operates in Afghanistan where the Taliban have been fighting the western-backed government for more than a decade.
The truck bomb struck the gate of the provincial council’s compound in the capital of Zabul province, killing at least five people and wounding 62, council director Atta Jan Haqbayan said. Three of the wounded were council members, Haqbayan said.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack. No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Later on Monday a roadside bomb exploded in neighbouring Kandahar province, killing six people, according to the governor’s spokesman, Samim Khopalwaq.
Three policemen were killed elsewhere in Kandahar when a firefight erupted between two groups of officers, said provincial police spokesman Zia Durrani. Four officers fled the scene, he said, adding that the incident was under investigation.
Meanwhile in northern Sari Pul province police said the body of a local official in charge of religious affairs, Abdul Wodod, was found on Monday, three days after he was kidnapped. General Habib Gulbhary, the provincial police chief, said the man was abducted by unknown assailants.