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At Least 17 Killed In Afghan Attacks

File photo of the aftermath of an attack in Kabul in late November.
File photo of the aftermath of an attack in Kabul in late November.

Officials say at least 17 people, including women and children, have been killed in separate attacks across Afghanistan.

Seven policemen were killed and five others injured in a northern province after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents late on December 20.

Abdul Mannan Raoufi, a high-ranking police official in Jawzjan Province, said a group of insurgents attacked an outpost in the remote Qoshteppa district.

Raoufi said police reinforcements were sent to the location and a gunbattle followed in which five insurgents died.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Separately, police in northern Kunduz Province said on December 21 they were searching for at least four Tajik citizens allegedly kidnapped by the Taliban.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a provincial police spokesman, said the incident took place in a forest-covered area in the Imam Saheb district, which is under Taliban control.

He said the Tajik nationals "had mistakenly entered Afghan soil."

At least seven civilians, including two children, were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle in eastern Afghanistan late on December 20.

"The pickup truck with women and children onboard was blown up" in Nari district of Kunar Province, district police chief Muhammad Yusuf was quoted as saying.

Elsewhere in Kunar, at least three civilians were killed as a battle has been raging between insurgents and government forces for more than a week, said Abdul Ghani Musamem, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Musamem said around 28 insurgents were killed in the fighting.

Meanwhile in Kabul, officials said Afghan journalist Zubair Hatami died in hospital on December 21 from wounds sustained during a suicide attack on a French cultural center earlier this month.

Hatami, 22, worked as a cameraman with the privately run Mitra Television.

The Taliban had claimed responsibility for that attack, which also killed a German aid worker and wounded some 20 other people.

A UN report released on December 20 said civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high this year, with 3,188 civilians killed and 6,429 injured by the end of November.

The Taliban on December 21 denounced the report as "biased and unfounded."

The militant group accused UN investigators of intentionally skewing statistics to blame the Taliban.

The UN report said insurgents were responsible for about 75 percent of civilians killed in Afghanistan.

The United Nations called on all sides of the war to work to limit civilian deaths and injuries.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and