0741 GMT February 21, 2020
The predawn raid occurred in Helmand province as the Taliban intensify their countrywide summer offensive despite repeated government attempts to reopen peace negotiations, AFP reported.
"Dozens of armed Taliban attacked a police checkpoint in Musa Qala district of Helmand," provincial police chief Nabi Jan Mullahkhil said.
"In the attack, 17 police forces were killed, and three others were wounded." Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor, confirmed the death toll from the raid that occurred just after midnight and lasted several hours. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they seized several weapons, ammunition and other military hardware from the checkpoint.
The Taliban, who were toppled from power in a 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, are known to make exaggerated battlefield claims. The terrorists launched a countrywide offensive in late April, stepping up attacks on government and foreign targets in what is expected to be the bloodiest fighting season in a decade.
Saturday's attack marks another grim setback for Afghan forces, facing their first fighting season without full NATO support. NATO's combat mission formally ended in December but a small follow-up foreign force of about 12,500 mainly US troops has stayed on to train and support local security personnel.