A Taliban ambush of a police convoy in western Afghanistan left 20 policemen dead, officials said Monday as minority Shiite residents in the capital, Kabul, took to the streets for the second day to protest the arrest of local militia commander. The ambush took place on Sunday afternoon in western Farah province, according to Dadullah Qaneh, a member of the provincial council. Four policemen, including the deputy provincial police chief, were wounded in the attack near Lash wa Juwayn district. The convoy was on its way to the district to introduce newly appointed district police chief when it came under attack, said another council member, Abdul Samad Salehi. The newly appointed chief was also killed, said Qaneh.
The Taliban, who in recent years have taken over nearly half of Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of brutal, near-daily Taliban assaults on Afghan military and security forces throughout the country. The Taliban view the US-backed government in Kabul as a dysfunctional Western puppet and have refused repeated offers to negotiate with it. Meanwhile, demonstrators blocked all roads in the western section of Kabul for a second day Monday, protesting the arrest of Alipoor, who leads a Shiite militia in the western Ghor province and who goes by one name. It was not clear what he is charged with, but state-allied militias are often accused of extortion and other mafia-like behaviour. On Sunday, hundreds clashed with police during the protest.
Three policemen were shot and wounded and another 20 were hit by stones thrown by the protesters, who torched two police checkpoints. "I can hear sporadic sound of shooting form the area," said lawmaker Nasrullah Sadeqizada of Monday's protest. The member of parliament lives near the area and spoke to The Associated Press over the phone. Mahobullah, another a resident form the area who also uses only one name, said that hundreds of protesters are carrying posters of Alipoor, shouting: "Alipoor is innocent" and demanding that the commander be set free. During a previous attempt to arrest Alipoor, in June, security forces in Ghor clashed with his followers, leading to the deaths of seven civilians and four policemen.