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Taliban capture district headquarters in northern Afghan province

The attack comes two days after Taliban fighters reportedly captured, disarmed and released more than 100 police officers in Badakhshan province.

By Fred Lambert
Taliban capture district headquarters in northern Afghan province
Taliban forces are reported to have captured the Kohistanat district of the Sar-e-pul province in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, after an overnight battle. The Taliban have increased attacks on Afghan police and soldiers during the spring offensive following the departure of a majority of NATO forces in December 2014. Image from Google Maps.

SAR-E-PUL , Afghanistan, July 28 (UPI) -- Taliban forces captured the district headquarters of a province in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

After an overnight battle, the Taliban consolidated control over the Kohistanat district in Sar-e-pul province, the BBC reports.

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The attack comes two days after Taliban forces are reported to have captured, disarmed and released more than 100 police officers in Badakhshan province to the east.

A police commander in the Kohistanat district and several of his men were reportedly forced to surrender as well, and, much like the assault in Badakhshan, officials say the remote location of the district contributed to its fall.

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The Kohistanat district was too far from the provincial capital of Sar-e-pul for reinforcements to arrive on time, and reaction forces had been unable to reach the police base in the Wardoj district of Badakhshan province because heavy rains and steep valleys made vehicle and air transport difficult.

Last month the Taliban claimed to have killed more than 20 police officers at remote outposts -- some manned by two or three officers -- in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.

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Such incidents typically see a dramatic rise during the spring, when the Taliban renew their annual offensive, but there has been a notable increase in Taliban attacks on police and other security forces since a majority of NATO forces left Afghanistan in December 2014.

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In the first 15 weeks of 2015, attacks on Afghan security forces rose 70 percent over the same period last year, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. An average of more than 300 police officers and soldiers are killed each week.

The loss of Kohistanat district headquarters comes as Taliban fighters seize villages and territory in the Kunduz and Helmand provinces. There have also been reports of fighting in Kunduz and Kunar provinces.

A suicide blast killed more than 30 people at Camp Chapman in Khost province on July 12.

Amid the violence, Afghan and Taliban leaders began informal negotiations in Norway last month and formal talks in Pakistan nearly two weeks ago. According to reports, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar has indirectly supported the talks.

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