5 police killed in checkpoint attack in S. Afghanistan

Xinhua, December 7, 2014

Some five Afghan policemen and one militant were killed after Taliban militants attacked a security checkpoint in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province overnight, police said on Sunday.

"An unknown number of militants stormed a police checkpoint in Trikh Nawar locality of Marja district at around midnight. The exchange of fire left five police and one militant named Mohammad Shaffiq killed," district police chief Meher Dil told Xinhua.

Several militants were also wounded following the gun battle in the province, 555 km south of Kabul.

Helmand is notorious for poppy growing and is a known Taliban hotbed.

The Taliban has intensified attacks over the past couple of months as NATO and U.S. forces are withdrawing from the country. The war-torn country is due to take over the responsibility for its own security from NATO-led troops by the end of year.

In another development, up to 17 kidnapped policemen were released from Taliban custody after mediation by local leaders in Wardoj district of northern Badakhshan province late Saturday, district governor Dawlat Mohammad Khawari told Xinhua earlier on the day.

The released cops, who were captured by the militants a month ago, were in good health, he added.

More than 34,000 NATO-led coalition troops, down from the peak of 130,000 in 2010, are stationed in Afghanistan. Nearly 24,000 of them are Americans and the United States plans to trim its forces to more than 10,000 next year.