Taliban kill 7 Afghan policemen at checkpoint

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban attacked a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan, killing at least seven policemen, an official said Sunday. In Kabul, a reporter wounded in an attack earlier this month on a French-run school died of his injuries.

The checkpoint attack took place in Jawzjan province, said Abdul Manan Raoufi, the region's police operational chief. Along with the seven killed, five other policemen were wounded in the attack late Saturday in a village in the province's Qashtepa district.

Police reinforcements were sent to the location and a gunbattle ensued in which five insurgents died, Raoufi said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, a battle has been raging between insurgents and government forces for more than a week in eastern Kunar province, said Abdul Ghani Musamem, spokesman for provincial governor. He said it was difficult to determine exact casualty figures, though at least three civilians had been killed and around 28 insurgents so far.

"There are casualties among civilians who are stuck in the battlefield but we don't know how many right now," he said.

Elsewhere in Kunar, seven civilians, including two children, were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Nari district late Saturday, the spokesman said. Three other civilians were wounded in the blast.

Also late on Saturday, 22-year-old journalist Zubair Hatami died in Kabul from wounds sustained in a Taliban attack on a French-run school earlier this month.

Hatami, a cameraman with the privately-run Mitra Television, was seriously wounded when a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up during a performance at the Etsiqlal High School on Dec. 11. A German aid worker was also killed in that attack.

Taliban militants have intensified their war on the Afghan government in recent months, and have been hitting soft targets such as schools and foreign guesthouses in the capital ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign combat forces on Dec. 31.

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