At least 10 members of the Afghan National Security Forces, ANSF, have died in a gun battle with the Taliban in western Afghanistan, local officials report.
|From the perspective of one neighbourhood in Herat
A district police chief was among the five soldiers and five policemen killed in a late Monday raid on a convoy of security forces in Herat province.
"The enemies of our country ambushed our police convoy by using the dark night which resulted in the martyrdom of five Afghan police including Bismullah Khan - chief of Aubi district", said Bismullah Khan, provincial police spokesman.
A spokesman for Muhiudin Noori, provincial governor, said a group of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army were searching on Monday for a group of fighters who had earlier set up a roadblock, stopping and seizing passing vehicles, when they were ambushed.
The Herat ambush was the bloodiest single incident for ANSF in western Afghanistan so far this year.
In recent months, fighters have been switching tactics and increasingly targeting Afghan security forces as the international coalition continues its drawdown toward a planned withdrawal of the majority of combat troops in 2014.
In the announcement of its so-called "spring offensive", the Taliban had cited ANSF as among their chief targets.
There were no reported casualties among the fighters, but police later arrested 25 suspects found in the area, Noori said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, condemned a NATO raid on Sunday that killed four children in eastern Logar province.
"Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives including of children are still being lost in fighting a terrorism whose havens and sanctuaries remain safe outside Afghanistan’s borders", a statement issued by the presidential palace in Kabul read.
Coalition troops carried out the operation in Baraki Barak district in an effort to apprehend two armed fighters. But this resulted in the deaths of the four children who were tending to their animals in the same area, the statement said.
General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, ISAF, offered his condolences to the victims' families in a statement issued by the coalition and said he would meet them personally to offer "condolence payments".
Din Mohammad Darwesh, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the victims were between 10 and 13 years old.
On Sunday, NATO said it had conducted a precision airstrike in Baraki Barak district which killed three fighters."No other individuals were reported nearby at the time of the strike," a coalition statement said.