Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Sediq Sediqqi, center, flanked by Gen. Heinz Feldmann, spokesman of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), left, and NATO Senior Civilian Representative Christopher Chambers, speaks during a Joint press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 1. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
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Insurgents killed nearly 300 Afghan local and national police in the span of a month, the Interior Ministry said Monday, illustrating how casualties among local forces are mounting now that NATO-led coalition troops have handed over responsibility for combat operations.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters that 299 police were killed in the last month, and another 618 were wounded. The Defense Ministry said it did not have monthly figures for the number ofsoldiers killed.
In the same time span, Sediqqi said 753 militants were killed in joint operations with the military and others, and more than 300 were arrested. Also, 180 civilians were killed.
Sediqqi did not provide comparison figures from previous months, but according to an Associated Press count, the violence this year is similar to its highest levels in nearly 12 years of war.
As Afghan forces have become more involved in security operations, they have seen a sharp rise in deaths, while casualties among the U.S.-led military coalition have fallen as the international forces pull back to let the Afghans take the lead. The NATO coalition in June formally handed over all security operations across the country to Afghan forces.
According to an AP count, 807 Afghan security force members — including soldiers and police — and 365 civilians have been killed so far this year through the end of May. A total of 63 coalition troops were also killed in that span.
Last year through the end of May, Afghan security forces lost 365 soldiers and police, and 338 civilians were killed. Coalition forces lost 177 troops during that time.
Sediqqi said the biggest danger facing the security forces were roadside bombs.
“That’s where we have lots of fatalities,” he said.
Even as he spoke, a regional police commander and three of his men were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the country’s north.
Baghlan provincial police spokesman Jaweed Basharat said district commander Habinul Rahman was killed when the bomb exploded next to his vehicle while on patrol in the morning.
In the western province of Badghis, 12 Taliban militants were killed in two days of fighting at three border security posts, provincial governor’s spokesman Mirwas Mirzakwal said. Three policemen were wounded, he said.
Associated Press writer Amir Shah contributed to this report.