Islamist gunmen stormed two police posts in the north and south of Afghanistan today, officials said, killing 16 policemen and underscoring the vulnerability of local security forces.
Training up Afghan forces is central to a new US strategy to end the war and draw down the number of foreign troops battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, but police struggle with a lack of resources and recruits.
Early today, militants ambushed a police post on a highway bisecting northeast Afghanistan from Kabul through Baghlan province, which is a main NATO supply route for troops fighting the Taliban insurgency.
"Eight police were killed in an attack on their post," Baghlan Governor Mohammad Akbar Barakzai told AFP.
Almost simultaneously, eight other officers lost their lives in a similar attack in the province of Helmand, the heartland of the Taliban revolt in the south, the interior ministry said in a statement.
"Sixteen policemen lost their lives in two separate attacks by the terrorists," the statement said.
"Eight police were martyred in a terrorist attack in the province of Baghlan... eight police were martyred in another terrorist attack in the province of Helmand," it said.
Less equipped and paid less than Afghan soldiers, policemen are frontline targets for insurgents fighting to topple the Western-backed government and expel the 113,000 NATO and US troops based in the country.