Kabul: Taliban militants have captured a
remote district in northeastern Afghanistan near to where 40 people were kidnapped by the insurgents last week, police said
The capture of Waigal district, in Nuristan province
near the Pakistani border, underscores the huge challenges
faced in Afghanistan as local security forces prepare to take
over from NATO in certain areas this summer.
Provincial police chief Shamsul Rahman Zahid said his
men made a "tactical retreat" from Waigal after it was overrun
by armed militants.
"Around 300 armed militants attacked the district last
night (Monday). Police forces made a tactical retreat to avoid
civilian casualties," he said.
Afghan officials and Taliban regularly use the term
"tactical retreat" when an area falls to the control of the
Zahid said there were around 100 police in Waigal, although locals said the figure was closer to 20, and that the number of militants was also likely exaggerated.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the
militants captured 12 police, along with weapons and other
equipment, when they took the district.
Last week, the Taliban snatched 40 men they said were
police officers in the neighbouring province of Kunar.
Provincial officials have denied the hostages were
police, saying they were villagers who had sought work with
the force, but were turned away.
Afghanistan`s police force is chronically
under-resourced and remote districts are protected by only
handfuls of officers, making them highly vulnerable to attack.
Last week Afghan President Hamid Karzai said local police and military would start taking control of security in
some areas this year as part of a transition designed to see
foreign troops leave the country by the end of 2014.