An air strike killed at least eight policemen in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a government official said on Friday, the latest casualties from a rise in air and ground operations against the Afghan Taliban.
Giving details, Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi, said a police check post in the district had come under attack by the Taliban. The attack was responded to by Afghan forces on the ground and the NATO-led Resolute Support forces from the air. While scores of insurgents were killed, the NATO strike also killed eight policemen by mistake. Since NATO had marked the formal end of the combat mission in 2014, currently only U.S. forces are engaged in offensive operations against the insurgents and provide aerial support to the Afghan forces.
Helmand province remains one of the most challenging provinces in Afghanistan, with the militants controlling large swaths of land. Recently the Afghan forces backed by the U.S. air power reclaimed a large territory from insurgents. But that has resulted in frequent clashes in various pockets of the province, claiming lives from both sides.
Fighting has accelerated during a period of peace talks to end more than 17 years of war. The Taliban have so far rejected cease-fire proposals, saying that U.S. and NATO troops must first withdraw from Afghanistan.
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