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At least 17 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attacks

Taliban insurgents turn themselves in to Afghan forces, 2010. (Resolute Support Media/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Taliban fighters have attacked two checkpoints in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, killing at least 17 Afghan soldiers and abducting 11 others, officials say.

Ghausuddin Noorzai, the district chief in Posht Rod, said that another four soldiers were wounded in the attack, which began late on October 13 and continued into the morning of October 14.

He said the attackers seized weapons and ammunition.

Defense ministry spokesman Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed said reinforcements were sent to the area, adding that the Taliban has “also suffered huge losses.”

In southern Zabul Province, the police chief of the Mizan district was killed in clashes with Taliban militants overnight, said provincial Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the two attacks, which came as the militants have vowed to step up their offensive ahead of Afghanistan’s general elections set for October 20.

On October 13, at least 22 people were killed – including civilians and members of the Afghan security forces – when a bomb exploded at an election campaign rally for a woman who is running for parliament in the northeastern province of Takhar.

No one claimed responsibility, but the Taliban are active in the province and have claimed previous attacks there.

And in the western province of Herat, gunmen attacked the campaign office of a candidate, killing a security guard and a child.

The Taliban has ramped up attacks on Afghan security forces and government facilities throughout the country in recent months, pledging to do everything in its power to block the parliamentary vote, which the group called an “American conspiracy to further justify the foreign occupation.”