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Militants kill at least 17 police in Afghan south: officials

policeAt least 17 Afghan policemen were killed early Saturday when Taliban militants stormed a security outpost in the volatile southern province of Helmand, officials said.

“Dozens of armed Taliban attacked a police checkpoint in Musa Qala district of Helmand. In the attack, 17 police forces were killed, and three others were wounded,” Helmand provincial police chief Nabi Jan Mullahkhil told AFP.

Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor, confirmed the death toll from the attack which occurred after midnight.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Taliban are intensifying their annual spring offensive despite repeated government attempts to reopen peace talks.

The insurgents launched a countrywide offensive in late April, stepping up attacks on government and foreign targets in what is expected to be the bloodiest fighting season in a decade.

Afghan authorities have repeatedly tried to jumpstart talks with the Taliban in the hope of ending the 13-year conflict, but the militants have set tough conditions, including the withdrawal of all foreign troops in Afghanistan.

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