Seventeen policemen were killed and three injured after Taliban militants attacked a checkpoint in Afghanistan’s Southern Helmand province.
The checkpoint in Musa Qala district was attacked overnight by armed Taliban fighters, provincial police spokesman Farid Obaid said by phone. Eight Taliban militants were killed and seven wounded, Obaid said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack by phone from an undisclosed location.
Musa Qala, once the center of the war in Helmand, was taken over by the Taliban in early 2007. Afghan forces, supported by their U.S. and U.K. counterparts, took back control later that year.
The Taliban have stepped up operations nationwide after U.S.-led forces officially ended the combat mission last year. The group captured Yamgan district in Badakhshan province on June 6.
Four districts of more than 350 districts of the war-torn country are under Taliban control, Gen. Afzal Aman, the head of defense ministry’s operational department, told reporters in Kabul. Districts are Baghran and Dishu in Helmand province, Nawa and Khak-e-Afghan in Ghazni and Zabul provinces.
Severe fighting is ongoing in the country and many places are under threat of enemy attacks, Amad said. Forty percent of Afghanistan poses significant threats from insurgents, according to United Nations.
The war in Afghanistan killed 92,000 people between 2001 and 2014 and injured nearly 100,000, according to a report by Brown University. That toll includes Afghan and foreign civilians, foreign forces, and insurgents.