Taliban kill dozens and lay siege to police compound in Helmand

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Taliban gunmen have surrounded a police compound in Helmand province after killing 19 policemen and seven soldiers in a continuing siege, police say.

The insurgents advanced to within 20 metres of the compound, seized police vehicles and weapons and blocked all roads out of Naw Zad district. “We 
need an immediate response from the government,” Napas Khan, the police chief in Naw Zad told the Associated Press in a phone call from inside the compound.

Helmand has long been a heartland for the Taliban, and government forces launched an operation against them in March, in the hope of reducing the impact of the Taliban’s annual warm weather offensive. Since then, however, attacks across the country have intensified, and on Monday, a suicide truck bomb attack and a separate roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan killed 11 people and wounded dozens more. The Taliban have been clashing with rival insurgents claiming allegiance to the “Islamic State” group for three days in the western Farah province, leaving at least 10 Taliban fighters and 15 IS supporters dead.

Meanwhile, a Tunisian soldier opened fire on fellow troops at a military barracks in the capital Tunis, killing seven people before he was killed, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Belhassen Oueslati said 10 others were injured in the shooting, including one person who was in a serious condition. He described the incident as an “isolated act, not a terrorist act” and said the motive would be determined by an investigation.

An AFP correspondent reported hearing two volleys of gunfire from inside the barracks at around 8.45am local time.