KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Gunmen attacked an outpost of a government-sponsored militia and killed 10 members of the security force in western Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.
The Taliban are targeting Afghan and NATO security forces as they fight to assert their power and undermine U.S. efforts to try to build up the Afghan military, which will take the lead in combat responsibility over the next couple of years.
In other violence, a suicide bomber struck a bazaar in a northeastern district Thursday, killing two people and wounding 16 others.
The attacks appear to be part of an increase in violence at the beginning of the spring fighting season. During the harsh Afghan winter, snow often blocks roads and fighting dies down.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack on the outpost late Wednesday in Farah province's Khaki Safed district. Militants armed with assault rifles stormed the post manned by members of the Afghan Local Police, said provincial police chief Shamsul Rahman Zahid.
The militants shot a guard who was posted outside, then pushed into the compound and opened fire on those inside, said Abdul Khaliq Noorzai, the district administrator.
Another two militia members were dragged outside and shot dead, while four militiamen survived the attack, Zahid said.
The Afghan Local Police is a force created with the help of the American military. They have been described as an armed neighborhood watch. The members come from the local community and receive a small government salary to man checkpoints and oversee security in their area. They receive a few weeks of training before starting the work.
The suicide bombing occurred in the Kishim district of Badakhshan province, which is relatively peaceful.
Provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said the attacker was targeting Nazok Mir, an area elder who commanded Afghan fighters against the Soviets in the 1980s. Insurgents killed Mir's brother last year.
Insurgents plot to kill leading figures in the north to eliminate opposition to the Taliban, which has its strongholds in the south.
Separately, the death toll from an attack Wednesday by a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle rose Thursday to 13, including three American soldiers, according to NATO and U.S. forces. Previously the toll was reported to be at least 10.
The Ohio National Guard said Thursday that the soldiers were from the guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and that several others were wounded.