At least fourteen Afghan police and a provincial official have been killed in three separate insurgent attacks across northern Afghanistan, government and security officials said on Sunday.
The north has largely escaped the bulk of fighting which pits a resurgent Taliban insurgency against nearly 150,000 NATO-led foreign troops, mostly in the south.
Nine policemen died when their remote checkpost was overrun by insurgents in the Emam Saheb district of Kunduz province late on Saturday, provincial district head Ayub Aqyar said.
"Dozens of Taliban overran their post," Aqyar said.
A homemade bomb also killed head of Qaleh Zaal district police in Kunduz, along with his driver, provincial spokesman Mohboobullah Saidi said. Two others were also wounded in the attack.
In usually peaceful Badakhshan province, five police died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Kishim district, provincial police chief Aqa Noor Kintoz said.
Under-trained, poorly paid and ill-equipped Afghan police have borne the brunt of increasingly frequent Taliban attacks in both urban and rural parts of the country.
Newly appointed Afghan Interior Minister General Bismillah Khan last week announced plans to step up police training as local security forces prepare to take security responsibility from US and NATO troops within four years.
Kunduz, untouched by insurgents only a couple of years ago, is now experiencing attacks on an almost daily basis as insurgents push back against mostly German soldiers and the Taliban tries to prove its reach extends across the country.
Saturday was a particularly bloody day, with six U.S. soldiers killed in separate incidents and more than a dozen civilians dying, including 12 people gunned down in a bus near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan.
Officials originally said the bus dead were Pakistani travellers taking a detour through Afghanistan, but on Sunday said they were Afghans.
Last week, Afghan security forces killed almost 70 insurgents, wounding another 36 and detaining around 140 during operations, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemari Bashary said on Sunday.
Insurgency-related violence killed 43 civilians and wounded 118 others, Bashary said. Afghan police lost 23 officers and around 70 were wounded in the same period.
Casualties among NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan hit a high in June and commanders expect violence to rise in parallel with the anti-insurgent offensive in coming months, raising questions about whether more can be done to protect troops.