KANDAHAR: A Taliban bomb attack killed 10 Afghan police returning from a recruitment centre in southern Afghanistan's restive Helmand province on Thursday, the local government said.
The victims were members of the US-funded Afghan Local Police (ALP) set up last year and touted as key to a handover of security control, which will see all foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan in theory by the end of 2014.
“Ten local police were killed and one was injured after their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province,” provincial governor's spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.
“The police were on their way back from a recruitment centre.” Three of the ALP officers were newly recruited, he added.
The Taliban, who frequently use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and US-led Nato troops, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Our mujahedeen fighters attacked a police vehicle and as a result 10 police were killed including a police commander,” said spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi.
Parts of Helmand remain highly unstable, although Nad-e Ali was one of the districts where President Hamid Karzai said security would be handed from Nato to Afghan control in a second wave of transition.
Mohammad Marjan, police chief of Nad-e Ali, confirmed the attack.
“On the way back from training, their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. As a result 10 police were killed and one was wounded,” he said.
British forces have been operating in the district since 2006 and recently said the joint security effort had led to an 86 per cent drop in violence this year compared to 2010.
The ALP arms local people to protect their communities in areas where the Afghan army and regular police have limited reach.
It does not have law enforcement powers and is due to more-than triple in size to 30,000.
Critics have called it little more than a militia but Nato says the community force helps bolster security in rural areas.
There are around 130,000 international troops, mainly from the United States, in Afghanistan helping government forces combat the insurgency.
Helmand's provincial capital Lashkar Gah has already been handed from Nato to Afghan control.