Herat, Afghanistan, Feb 24 – A NATO air strike in Afghanistan killed up to 16 militants overnight while a twin suicide attack killed a policeman outside a government anti-drugs office, officials said Monday.
Afghan security forces called in NATO warplanes to fend off scores of militants who attacked a police post in the northwestern province of Badghis.
“We requested air support from the international forces. As a result of the aerial bombardment, 16 Taliban have been killed,” Ikramuddin Yawar, police chief for western Afghanistan told AFP.
Ten rebels were wounded, he added.
Yawar had earlier put the death toll at “higher than eight”. Deputy provincial governor for Badghis, Abdul Ghani Saberi said initially that eight rebels died and 15 were wounded.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed carrying out an air strike in the remote province. It said there were casualties but an alliance spokesman was unable to specify how many.
The Taliban-led insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government and foreign troops has recently spread out of its heartland in southern and eastern Afghanistan to the northwest and southwest of the country.
In the neighbouring province of Nimroz on Monday, two suicide bombers killed a policeman as they blew themselves up outside the counter-narcotics office of the provincial capital of Zaranj, the government said.
Both bombers detonated devices strapped to their bodies under police uniforms after police opened fire when they attempted to enter the building, the interior ministry said in a statement.
“One police was martyred and three others were injured,” it said.
“Police guarding the gate tried to stop them as they tried to enter the building. They exploded themselves and killed the police officer,” provincial governor Ghulam Dastagir Azad told AFP.
He said the bombers were riding a motorbike.
Taliban insurgents, who benefit from drugs money, have frequently targeted counter-narcotic operations in Afghanistan, which is the world’s biggest supplier of drugs.
Since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted them from government, the Taliban have regrouped and waged an increasingly deadly insurgency, hoping to topple the US-backed regime in Kabul and regain power.