Nine Afghan policemen were killed and six others wounded in a Taliban assault on their checkpoint and a follow-up ambush in the eastern Afghan city of Ghazni.
The assault began early Friday when the Taliban attacked two adjacent checkpoints, Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Seerat told AFP.
The Taliban then ambushed a group of police rushing to the scene late on Friday, killing the head of the local police, Seerat added.
While the security forces were exchanging fire with the militants, four students were killed in an explosion, probably caused by a mortar attack that hit their school in the Andar district of Ghazni province. At least 15 other students and their two teachers were wounded in the incident.
Arif Noori, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province, said the students killed were aged between 10 and 16.
District in Badakhshan falls to Taliban
Taliban militants also took control of Arghanj Khaw district center in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, after two days of intense fighting, officials said on Saturday.
At least 12 members of the security forces were killed and another five wounded in the fighting that started late on Thursday night, provincial councilors Abdullah Naji Nazari and Abdul Rahman Talaat said.
Another five were taken hostage by the Taliban, the officials said.
Separately, four policemen were killed and two wounded after a Taliban “infiltrator” opened fire at a checkpoint in Zabul in southern Afghanistan late Friday.
On Thursday, Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid warned that the Taliban would wage an intense fight in the coming year and told Afghan forces to be ready.
Afghanistan usually sees a marked increase in violence in spring.
At least six people are killed and 23 others wounded in multiple explosions in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul during celebrations to mark Nowruz.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in January said 45,000 security forces had been killed since September 2014 when he took office.
Fighting in Afghanistan has intensified despite talks between Taliban and US representatives aimed at ending militancy in the war-ravaged country. The latest round of talks was held in the Qatari capital of Doha earlier this month.
The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end in the wake of a US-led invasion in 2001, but the militant group still continues to attack government and civilian targets as well as foreign forces.