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Police killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan's Helmand province

Taliban fighters have killed at least 17 policemen in an attack in Afghanistan. The overnight raid in Helmand province comes amid a flurry of attacks on government positions since US and NATO forces pulled out in 2014.

In an hourslong firefight, Afghan police said at least 17 police officers and 10 Taliban fighters were killed in the country's southern Helmand province.

"The outpost came under fire from all directions that killed 17 policemen over hours of battle," district police chief Mohammed Essa told Reuters news agency by phone.

The attack began overnight in the Musa Qala district, long considered a Taliban stronghold in the province.

Afghanistan Taliban

In May, the Taliban attacked a guesthouse and hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul, prompting fears that the insurgents' spring offensive may be the worst in years

Struggling to contain insurgency

Afghanistan's security forces, especially its ill-equipped police, have struggled to cope with a Taliban onslaught after US and NATO forces pulled out of the country in 2014.

More than 2,300 military, police and local law enforcement personnel have been killed since the beginning of the year to May - up 53 percent from the same period last year, according to the AP news agency.

The number of American service members killed from the invasion in 2001 to last year was notably less, coming in at 2,217.

Earlier this month, the Islamist insurgents launched a

major assault on Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan province

.

The Taliban ramped up their

offensive in spring

due to the warming weather, a move the group has practiced in recent years.

ls/jr (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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