Afghan official: Taliban seize control of key northern area

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban insurgents launched coordinated attacks form three different directions on Sayad district in northern Sari Pul province killing at least seven security forces, said a provincial official.

Zabi Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said Saturday that insurgents seized control of the strategic Mirzawalang area in Sayad district earlier in the day after two days of intense gun battle with the Afghan Security forces.

"We requested reinforcement for the central government, unfortunately couldn't get any support, that is why the forces lost control of Mirzawalang," said Amani.

Qari Yusouf Ahamdi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in an email addressed to media.

Amani said that 10 Taliban fighters, including two group leaders, were also killed in the battles and four Afghan security officers were wounded.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks on the country's northern provinces recently. The group seized control several months ago of another district in the same province, form where they organized and initiated their attack, according to local officials.

There have been unconfirmed reports of more than a dozen civilians, as well as local police, being killed after the insurgents took control of the area, added Amani.

Elsewhere, the provincial director of the counter-narcotics unit in western Ghor province was killed by two gunmen, said the spokesman for the provincial police chief in Ghor province, Iqbal Nezami, Saturday.

Two men on a motorbike shot and killed counter-narcotics chief Noorudin Shairfi in the province's capital Faroz Koh, said Nezami. "No one has been arrested, but the police have launched an investigation," he added.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack in Ghor.

Meanwhile, in southern Kandahar province a member of the Afghan police force was shot and killed by NATO advisers before he was able to attack their forces, according to a NATO-led Resolute Support mission statement.

The statement released Saturday said the incident took place near Kandahar Airfield after the advisers had completed scheduled law enforcement training and were attacked by a police officer as they were preparing to return to their base.

The Romanian soldiers, who were providing security for the Train, Advise and Assist Command south advisers, returned fire in self-defense and killed the gunman, it said.

A wounded Romanian soldier is being treated at Kandahar Airfield's medical facilities and another Afghan policeman who was wounded in gunfire exchange is being treated at an Afghan medical facility, it added.

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