KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Hundreds of insurgents attacked Afghan police checkpoints in a remote northeastern province Tuesday with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades but failed to overrun the government positions, officials said.
The assault in Nuristan, a rugged and mountainous area province Pakistan, is the second significant Taliban attack on Afghan government forces in less than four days and is part of the insurgents' long-awaited spring offensive.
The effectiveness of the Taliban's campaign could affect the size of President Barack Obama's planned drawdown of U.S. troops in July, the scale of which military officials have said will depend on conditions on the ground.
Nuristan province police chief, Gen. Shams-ul Rahman Zahid, said about 400 Taliban fighters launched their assault at dawn, striking government security outposts around a base housing reserve police units some 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of the provincial capital of Parun.
The gunbattles tapered off just before nightfall with the police still in control of the four checkpoints, which had been reinforced by more police from Parun, he said.
Zahid declined to say how many police had come under attack or the size of the security force based in Nuristan, although it is thought to be small. He acknowledged asking NATO and the Afghan army for help.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.