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Militants 'Capture District Headquarters' In Afghan Province


FILE: An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and a policeman walk on the floor of a room at a courthouse in Farah province.

Afghan officials say government forces have retaken control of a district headquarters in western Afghanistan that was briefly seized by Taliban militants.

Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Wazeri told RFE/RL on March 12 that Afghan forces had withdrawn from the center of Farah Province's Anardara district after hours of fighting against Taliban militants.

But Nusrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, later said that security forces retook control of the district headquarters after the militants were targeted by air strikes.

Rahimi said 56 militants were killed and dozens of others were injured in the air strikes.

Eight police officers, including a local police commander, were killed and 10 others were wounded in the morning attack, he said.

Rahimi said Taliban fighters held parts of the district for only about 30 minutes.

Fared Bakhtawer, the head of the Farah's provincial council, said initial reports indicated that about 15 members of the government security forces were killed and wounded in the assault, which was launched late on March 11.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying 15 police officers were killed and several military vehicles seized along with a large quantity of ammunition.

The battle was the latest in a series of Taliban attacks in the province, which is situated on the border with Iran and is one of the poorest in Afghanistan.

On March 10, officials said dozens of people were killed after Taliban militants ambushed Afghan security forces in the Bala Buluk district, sparking an hours-long gunbattle. Some 40 militants were also killed, officials said.

In the eastern province of Nangarhar, seven civilians, including three children and two women, were reported killed late on March 11 when their vehicle was hit by a grenade or a rocket.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said two other people in the vehicle were wounded in the attack, which was in the Bati Kot district.

The victims are all members of a single family, Khogyani added.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that Taliban militants had carried out the attack.

Both the Taliban and rival militants from a branch of the so-called Islamic State regularly attack local officials and security forces in Nangarhar Province.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Tolo News, and dpa

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