KABUL, Afghanistan — Militant attacks in once-calm northern Afghanistan killed at least 11 police officers and a government official whose car was hit by a remote-controlled bomb, officials said Sunday.
In the south, NATO said a U.S. service member died Sunday following an insurgent attack and a combined coalition and Afghan patrol killed a senior Taliban commander and a dozen other insurgents who were discovered planting a homemade bomb on a road.
Insurgents as well as coalition forces have escalated attacks across the country in recent months, as the NATO-led force pours in 30,000 more U.S. troops in a new push to break the Taliban's hold in its strongholds and establish stable Afghan governance.
International and Afghan commandos have been conducting near-nightly raids to capture or kill insurgents, while the Taliban has launched attacks on army bases and local officials and planted thousands of roadside bombs.
Insurgents in Kunduz province overran a checkpoint near the northern border with Tajikistan on Saturday, killing at least six of the nine border police stationed there, provincial deputy police chief Abdul Rahman Aqtash said.
Some reports said the guards were poisoned before the attack to make it easier for the insurgents, said Mahbobullah Sayedi, a spokesman for the provincial government. He said three border police stationed at the checkpoint were missing.
"It is possible that the militants used one of the border police, someone who was working there," Sayedi said. "We don't know anything about the three others… so that is why we are sending a delegation to find out exactly what happened."
Aqtash left Sunday morning to go to the site of the attack, but was forced to turn back when another gun battle on the road to the border made it unsafe to travel, he said by telephone.
Northern Afghanistan was once relatively calm, but Taliban and other militants have become increasingly active in the past two years.