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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 10:20 GMT
Afghan police 'killed by Taleban'
Afghan police
Afghan police continue to face militant attacks
At least 16 policemen in the south of Afghanistan have been killed after an attack by the Taleban on a checkpoint, interior ministry officials say.

They say that the attack happened in the Maywand district of Kandahar province on Saturday.

The ministry spokesman says that a "large group of militants" took part.

Correspondents say the police are being increasingly targeted because they are not as well trained or equipped as the Afghan army or Nato forces.

Search operation

They say that that the Taleban have repeatedly attacked the checkpoint - located near Highway One, Afghanistan's main thoroughfare - over the last year, which is one reason why so many police were stationed there.

Map

Police say they are investigating the latest incident and have launched a search operation.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary told the AP news agency that more than 850 police officers have been killed in attacks since March - the beginning of the Islamic calendar - which represents more than 1% of the countrywide police force of some 73,000 officers.

Officials say that two other police officers were killed on Monday in a roadside bomb blast in the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province.

Correspondents say that violence in Afghanistan this year has reached its highest levels since the Taleban were forced from power in 2001.

Separately, the Spanish King, King Juan Carlos, made an unannounced visit on Monday to Spanish peacekeepers in the western city of Herat.

Spain has had some 700 troops based in Afghanistan since 2002.



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