(AP) KABUL, Afghanistan – Just hours after a deadly raid on a police station killed 22 people, suspected Taliban fighters attacked another police compound in southeast Afghanistan, setting it ablaze and taking four policemen hostage, officials said Monday. The latest attack took place Sunday night at Tarway, a village in Paktika province a few miles from the Pakistan border, provincial police chief Daulat Khan said.
Khan said there were several hundred assailants. “They set the police station on fire, took four of our men and fled to Pakistan,” he said.
It was not possible to independently confirm the attack. Other policemen who were in the police station in Tarway fled the scene and the remoteness of the area made it impossible to contact authorities.
Nadir Khan Zadran, another police chief in the area, estimated there were 200 attackers and said they were members of the former Taliban regime, ousted in the U.S.-led war in 2001.
It was unclear if they were the same group that carried out a similar assault earlier Sunday at Barmal, much farther to the north, but also in Paktika province.
The violence is the latest in a wave of attacks in the region that have underscored how unstable Afghanistan remains despite the presence of 11,500 coalition troops deployed in the country to hunt the guerrillas down. On Wednesday, 64 people were killed in various attacks around the country.
Officials have stepped up security in Kabul and in Afghanistan’s south in preparation for the Independence Day holiday on Tuesday, when the country marks its break from British rule in 1919.
In the Barmal attack, hundreds of insurgents in a convoy of trucks assaulted a police headquarters, triggering a gunbattle that left seven police and 15 attackers dead, officials said. It was one of the largest shows of anti-government force in over a year.
Regional Gov. Mohammed Ali Jalali said the insurgents responsible for attack at Barmal included Taliban and fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who heads Hezb-e-Islami, a faction that has called for attacks against foreigners in Afghanistan. He also blamed Pakistan’s intelligence service for playing a role in organizing the assault.
The ongoing violence has angered President Hamid Karzai’s administration, which says Pakistan is not doing enough to police its side of the border.
Afghan officials say they will raise the issue when Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri visits Kabul on Thursday. A spokesman for the foreign ministry, Masood Khan, said the Taliban are a worry for both countries.
“The Taliban pose a threat throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said. “There many be some remnants on the Pakistani side. So it is a common fight and we should coordinate our strategies and work together and not find refuge in accusations.”
Pakistan abandoned its support for the Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks. The nation has since become a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, arresting more than 500 suspected al-Qaida operatives.
However, the conservative tribal area along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is believed to be a haven for Taliban, who share ethnic and religious links to Pakistani tribesmen.