ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Taliban insurgents ambushed and assassinated a district police head and his three bodyguards late Saturday in southern Afghanistan, while a separate attack in the southeast of the country killed at least five members of the government forces.
Omar Jan Haqmal, the police chief of the Nad Ali district, was traveling to Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, when he came under attack.
Some reports quoted provincial officials as saying the slain officer was on a routine patrol.
A Taliban spokesman claimed his group plotted the deadly attack.
Haqmal was the fourth high-profile security chief to have been killed by insurgents in Afghanistan in about a month, underscoring the high casualties being inflicted on Afghan forces.
On Thursday, a roadside bomb killed the police chief of the Jaghatu district in southeastern Ghazni province.
The slain officer had just taken over from his predecessor, who was also assassinated in a similar attack. Taliban insurgents had also ambushed and assassinated their predecessor.
Separately, officials confirmed Saturday that scores of Taliban fighters staged a surprise predawn assault on security outposts in the Qarabagh district in Ghazni.
A provincial government spokesman, Mohammed Arif Noori, told VOA that attackers had killed five policemen and wounded eight others. He added that reinforcements from the provincial capital enabled Afghan forces to push back the assailants.
Intensified insurgent attacks this year have inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan security forces, though neither interior nor defense ministry officials have released casualty figures.
According to the U.S. military, a record 6,300 security personnel were killed and more than 12,000 were wounded in 2016.
The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in a report released this week, blamed flawed U.S. planning, training and oversight for the inability of Afghan forces to secure their country.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces continue to suffer heavy casualties and struggle with terrorism as well as a resilient Taliban insurgency because the $70 billion U.S. security assistance program has suffered from serious problems over the past 16 years, many of which still persist, SIGAR said.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently unveiled a revised strategy for the Afghan war, the longest military engagement in U.S. history, hoping a modest troop surge to enhance training for local forces would help break the military stalemate with Taliban militants.
The Taliban has extended its control or influence to more than 40 percent of Afghanistan since the withdrawal of U.S.-led international combat forces in 2014.