ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - A Taliban infiltrator has gunned down six government forces in southern Afghanistan, raising the number of army and police personnel killed by insurgents in the past week to nearly 100.
Afghan and insurgent officials said Sunday the overnight "insider attack" incident took place at a security outpost in Zabul province where a police guard turned his gun on colleagues.
He shot dead six police, including the commander of the post. Afghan media quoted local officials as saying the shooter later rejoined the Taliban and handed the post over to insurgent control.
The Taliban in the last week has assaulted several Afghan military bases and installations, particularly in volatile southern provinces, killing and wounding scores of security forces.
On Saturday, the first day of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, a Taliban suicide car bomber in the eastern city of Khost struck a convoy of an Afghan elite force providing security to American forces. The blast killed at least 18 personnel and wounded many others.
Afghan Defense Ministry officials say government forces have also inflicted heavy battlefield casualties on the Taliban in retaliation.
The Islamist insurgency on Saturday rejected as "ignorance of religion" U.N.-led calls for halting hostilities during Ramadan to respect the religious obligation.
Hours after staging the suicide car bombing in Khost, a Taliban spokesman insisted it is fighting "jihad" (holy war) and is a religious obligation.
"Our fight is Jihad and an obligatory worship. And every obligatory act of worship has 70 times more reward in Ramadan," a statement quoted spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as claiming.
Afghan security forces lost more than 150 personnel in a single Taliban attack last month on a military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The uptick in hostilities has also killed and wounded record numbers of civilians, particularly women and children, since the start of the year.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has convened an international peace conference in Kabul in the first week of June where delegates from Afghanistan's immediate neighbors, along with other regional countries, will discuss ways to end the increasingly deadly conflict.