Taliban attacks kill 12 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A string of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have killed 12 people, including four women who died in the crossfire during a shootout between insurgents and soldiers, while an errant NATO airstrike killed nine Afghan police, Afghan officials said Tuesday.

The Taliban attacked a military checkpoint in the western Farah province, killing four troops and wounding six, according to Mohammad Naser Mehri, the provincial governor’s spokesman. The attack in Bala Buluk district started late Monday night and lasted for several hours. Mehri said Afghan airstrikes killed 19 Taliban fighters and wounded 30. “The Taliban were pushed back and the situation is under control now,” he said.

In the eastern Logar province, the four women were killed and four children were wounded in the crossfire during a shootout near Puli Alim, the provincial capital, said Hasibullah Stanikzai, a provincial council member. He said an investigation is underway to determine which side caused the civilian casualties.

In a separate attack in Logar, the Taliban assaulted police checkpoints in the Azrah district, setting off heavy fighting and causing the police to call for help.

Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said NATO carried out an airstrike in the area that mistakenly killed nine police and wounded another 14. He said NATO and the Afghan government have launched a joint investigation into the incident.

Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for NATO, confirmed that it carried out an airstrike in support of Afghan forces in Azrah. “We are aware of varying and unconfirmed reports, and are looking into the matter further,” he added.

Rahimi said around 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the battle. The Taliban have not commented on any of the recent attacks.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since NATO and the U.S. formally ended their combat mission in 2014, and have seized control of several districts. An Islamic State affiliate has carried out dozens of deadly attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and minority Shiites.

On Monday night, the Taliban attacked a police checkpoint in the eastern Ghazni province, killing four police and wounding five, said Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor. He said the battle in Jaghatu district lasted for three hours.

Separately, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed an Afghan soldier and wounded three troops and a civilian on Sunday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

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Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

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