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Afghan Official: Taliban Kills 7 Police In Eastern Province

AFGHANISTAN -- Alleged Taliban fighters and other militants stand handcuffed while being presented to the media at a police headquarters in Jalalabad on March 6, 2018.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)

The Taliban stormed a police checkpoint in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province and killed seven policemen, a provincial official said Monday.

The attack took place the previous night in the district of Ghani Kahil, said the provincial police chief, Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. Five Taliban fighters were killed in the attack, he said.

Stanikzai also said that in Khogyani district, also in Nangarhar province, a government airstrike on Sunday night left 20 Taliban fighters dead.

There was no statement from the Taliban on either the Ghani Kahil attack or the airstrike.

Earlier on Sunday, a suicide bomber on foot struck outside the building of the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry in the capital, Kabul, killing seven people and wounding 15.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Monday on its Aamaq news agency, saying it targeted government employees and warning their attacks will reach "all who help the Crusaders," a term militants use to refer to foreign forces.

Last month, a suicide bombing near the same ministry killed 12 people and wounded 31 others, mostly government employees.

On Monday, a would-be suicide attacker was shot and killed by police in Kabul before he was able to get close to a gathering of supporters of the country's first vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, according to police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai. Dostum is currently in Turkey.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Taliban and the Islamic State group have stepped up their attacks in Kabul.

Meanwhile, intense week-long battles have been underway between the Taliban and IS in northern Jawzjan province, according to Gen. Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani, the provincial police chief.

Jawzjani said on Monday that around 70 Islamic State fighters and 54 Taliban insurgents may have been killed in the fighting in districts of Darzab and Qushtipa.

The information, which came from the rival sides, could not be immediately verified by the security forces, Jawzjani also said.

"Both sides are using small arms against each other, with their battles mainly taking place in the villages of both districts," he added.

A statement from the Taliban said that along with killing 70 IS fighters, including five top leaders in Darzab, 21 others were captured in battle. There was no immediate comment from IS.

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.