KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least nine police officers were killed Saturday in separate attacks by Taliban insurgents on police checkpoints in eastern Ghazni province, a provincial official said, and the U.S. military said a service member died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash in the east.
Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said two police checkpoints came under attack by Taliban fighters in the early hours leaving nine police dead and two police wounded. He said six insurgents were killed and nine others were wounded in the battle, which lasted almost an hour.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. He said 14 police were killed, including both commanders of the checkpoints.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban since U.S. and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.
In eastern Logar province, a U.S. service member died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash late Friday, a statement from the U.S. military said. Six other U.S. crew members were injured in the crash and were receiving medical treatment, it said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our comrade,” said U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support in Afghanistan. “On behalf of all of Resolute Support, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of our fallen comrade and those injured in this unfortunate event.”
The statement said the crash was not the result of enemy action. “We have full accountability of all personnel and the crash site has been secured,” it said.
Earlier, Salim Saleh, spokesman for the provincial governor in Logar, told The Associated Press that a military helicopter made an emergency landing as it was taking off and hit a tree.
He said the helicopter was supporting an operation to eliminate insurgents from Karwar district.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed their fighters shot down the helicopter in Karwar district.