Afghan official: Taliban attacks kill 15 Afghan policemen

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says the Taliban launched two blistering attacks in northern Sar-e-Pul province, killing 15 members of the country's security forces.

In one attack, on the outskirts of the provincial capital, heavy artillery fire by Afghan forces trying to repel the insurgents sent local residents fleeing for safety.

Provincial council chief Mohammad Noor Rahmani says that along with 15 policemen killed, 21 were wounded in the two attacks, which took place late on Monday. He says fierce gunbattles raged for several hours in Sayyad district and outside Sar-e-Pul, the provincial capital.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The Taliban have been carrying out near-daily attacks targeting Afghan forces despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country's 17-year war.