At least 10 policemen have been killed in clashes with Taliban fighters in the central Afghan province of Wardak, officials said.
Sunday’s clashes come amid fighting to wrest control of arterial highways a day after Taliban fighters blew up bridges along those roads, blocking traffic between the capital Kabul and Ghazni, Zabul and Kandahar provinces.
The fighting also cut off electricity to four provinces: Maidan Wardak, Logar, Ghazni and Paktia.
Abdul Rahman Mangel, the provincial governor’s spokesman, told the Associated Press the attack began late on Saturday and appeared to be aimed at seizing the Sayed Abad district headquarters in the Maidan Wardak province.
The Taliban set fire to a government building in the district and killed the district police chief along with nine other policemen, according to a senior police official.
The Taliban said they overran the district headquarters, but local officials denied the claim.
Mangel also said the Taliban raided homes after the attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told the Associated Press that reinforcements have been sent to and “most areas in the district” are under control.
Repeated assaults on strategically important provinces, such as Wardak and nearby Ghazni, have been a show of strength for the Taliban, underscoring how volatile security remains in Afghanistan two weeks before parliamentary elections.
A statement from the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said fighters had taken the centre of Sayeed Abad and all surrounding security checkpoints.
The group has seized a number of districts across the country in recent years and regularly attack security forces.
In August, the Taliban attacked Ghazni, the largest tactical operation launched by the Taliban since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015.
That confrontation killed 150 members of Afghanistan‘s security forces and 95 civilians, as well as hundreds of Taliban fighters.