- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Hundreds of militants launched a large-scale attack Tuesday against Afghan police in a remote mountainous eastern province, a part of the country that is largely under Taliban control, officials said.

Nuristan province police chief Gen. Shams-ul Rahman Zahid said about 400 Taliban fighters armed with AK-47s, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades unleashed their assault around daybreak.

They pounded the checkpoints around a base housing police reserve units located about 11 miles south of the provincial capital of Parun.

But by late afternoon, Gen. Zahir said the checkpoints had held their ground and had been reinforced by more police from Parun.

Tuesday’s attack is the second significant strike staged by Taliban terrorists on Afghan government forces in less than four days and just one week after U.S. commandos killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The first attack came over the weekend in the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and the economic hub of southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban attempted a full frontal assault on government buildings across the city.

At least two dozen insurgents, two members of the Afghan security forces and one civilian were killed in two days of gunbattles in the city.

The Taliban have said the Kandahar attacks were planned well before bin Laden’s death. They called the attacks part of their spring offensive to re-establish their brutal regime that the United States toppled in 2001 for sheltering bin Laden.

Gen. Zahid, the Nuristan provincial police chief, did not say how many police were under attack Tuesday or the size of the security force based in the province, although it is thought to be small. He cited operational security.

“We have requested from NATO forces and the Afghan army to help. They have not responded yet. I have ordered other units to go and help,” Gen. Zahid said.

NATO said it was not aware of the attacks. There are few coalition or Afghan Army troops in mountainous Nuristan, near the Pakistan border.

The Nuristan and Kandahar attacks are the most ambitious since the Taliban declared the start of a spring offensive against NATO and the Afghan government last month.

NATO has been expecting the Taliban to stage a series of spectacular and complex attacks, and the group has already carried out a number of them.

But violence continued in other parts of Afghanistan as well.

NATO said Tuesday that three of its troops were killed by roadside bombs, one on Tuesday in the east and two on Monday in the south.

Seven NATO soldiers have died this month, a total of 158 since the start of the year.



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