Reuters International

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - At least 20 Afghan policemen were killed in Taliban ambushes in south central Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday, as security forces sought to dislodge insurgents in multiple districts.

Fighting is ongoing in Zabul province, where the police were attacked in Shah Joi district, provincial governor Bismullah Afghanmal said. He said the Taliban had ambushed police in the areas of Chino and Ghulam Rabat.

"The report we have right now indicates that 20 policemen are martyred and 10 others are wounded. The number may increase," Afghanmal told Reuters.

Dozens of Taliban, who have been waging a 16-year-long insurgency against the Western-backed government in Kabul, were also reported killed and wounded, Afghanmal said.

Reinforcements sent to the area where the police had been ambushed were also attacked, said Gul Islam Seyal, a spokesman for the Zabul governor.

Fighting was also ongoing in Zabul's Dai Chopan district, but the extent of casualties was unknown, Afghanmal said.

In neighbouring Ghazni province, Taliban fighters launched a three-pronged attack on parts of the provincial capital on Friday, driving a Humvee packed with explosives into the entrance of a district governor's compound during the assault.

Separately on Sunday, Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Saturday on a bank in Paktia province, which left at least six people dead, including three attackers.

(Reporting by Sayed Sarwar Amani and Ismail Sameem.; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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