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Taliban ambush kills 22 security forces in northern Afghanistan

Taliban ambush kills 22 security forces in northern Afghanistan
U.S. soldiers at the site of a suicide attack as a vehicle pulls the wreckage of a damaged car in Kabul on Oct. 13. (Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)

Taliban fighters ambushed security forces traveling through northern Afghanistan, sparking a daylong battle that killed 22 soldiers and police, officials said Monday.

The clash occurred in Sari Pol, at most times a relatively placid province, underscoring the growing threat from Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan.

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Abdul Jabar Haqbeen, the provincial governor, said the security forces were on their way to the provincial capital when they were ambushed by Taliban forces in the Laghman valley Sunday morning. A battle lasted about 12 hours, with additional Afghan forces coming to the area to repel the assault, which also saw 23 Taliban slain, Haqbeen said.
Afghan forces also called on the U.S.-led military coalition to bomb Taliban positions but the aircraft arrived too late, Haqbeen said.

Also Monday, a disagreement emerged between residents of Paktia province and coalition forces over a weekend airstrike that Afghans said killed seven civilians.

Residents took the bodies to the governor’s office in Paktia, in eastern Afghanistan, on Monday in a show of protest, according to local media reports. The International Security Assistance Force, as the coalition is known, acknowledged the airstrike but said those killed were insurgents.

Abdul Wali Sahi, deputy governor of Paktia, told reporters that the victims were collecting firewood at the time of the strike.

The dispute comes two weeks after President Ashraf Ghani’s administration signed agreements allowing U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan into next year. The pact had been delayed for months due in part to former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s charges that coalition forces had not done enough to curb civilian casualties.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, several attacks -- including in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif – killed at least 14 people and wounded 45 others, according to media reports.

In Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province and long seen as a haven of stability, two gunmen dressed in police uniforms raided the police headquarters, killing two officers and injuring nine others, authorities told Afghan media.

Sher Jan Durani, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, told reporters that the attackers tried to penetrate the gates of the police compound but were intercepted by officers.

A suicide bomber struck Green Village, a compound on the outskirts of Kabul that houses foreign military and civilian contractors, killing one civilian and injuring three others, including two foreigners, security officials told Afghan media.

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hours later, an improvised bomb exploded in the Qarabagh district of Kabul province at a weekly market that attracts shoppers from the surrounding area. The district governor, Abdul Sami Sharifi, told reporters that 22 people were injured, including two children.
In Nangarhar province in the east, a suicide bomber attempted to strike an Afghan military convoy but missed. The blast killed a woman instead, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the provincial governor’s spokesman, told reporters.

Eight other people were reported injured, including an Afghan soldier.

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Three construction workers were killed in neighboring Laghman province when insurgents fired a rocket, according to provincial officials.
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In eastern Kunar province, a Taliban attack on a police checkpoint in Monogai district killed three police officers and left another three injured, according to an interior ministry statement. At least six Taliban fighters were killed and another six wounded, the ministry said.
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A car bomb exploded in Wardak province outside Kabul, killing three civilians and three soldiers in Sayed Abad district, where the Taliban are known to operate, said Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
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Latifi is a special correspondent.

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