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34 killed in Taliban attacks across Afghanistan

An injured woman is brought into a hospital in Ghazni province in Afghanistan after the Taliban launched a massive assault at the weekend. Picture by Mohammad Anwar Danishyar/AP

A TALIBAN assault on two adjacent checkpoints in northern Afghanistan has left 30 soldiers and police officers dead.

Officials in Baghlan province said the insurgents set fire to the checkpoints after the attack in the Baghlan-I Markazi district.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a military checkpoint and another manned by local police late on Tuesday.

In a separate incident, Taliban attacks killed four police officers in southern Zabul province.

Provincial police chief Mustafa Mayar said three officers were also injured when the militants attacked security posts in the Zabul capital of Qalat.

He said a battle lasted for several hours, during which the Taliban used artillery and heavy guns. The attack also left seven rebels dead and five others injured.

Meanwhile, Afghans emerged from their homes and some shops reopened in the eastern city of Ghazni, where the Taliban launched a co-ordinated offensive last Friday, overwhelming the city's defences and capturing several neighbourhoods.

Afghan forces repelled the initial assault and in recent days have struggled to flush the insurgents out of residential areas where they are holed up.

The US and Nato have launched air strikes and sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces as they fight for the city, which is just 75 miles from the capital Kabul and has a population of 270,000 people.

Arif Noori, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Wednesday that "life is getting back to normal" after at least 35 civilians were killed in recent days.

Hundreds of people have fled the fighting in Ghazni, which has left 100 members of the Afghan security forces dead.

Also on Wednesday, six children were killed when they tinkered with an unexploded rocket shell, causing it to blow up.

Sarhadi Zwak, spokesman for the governor of the eastern Laghman province, said the victims were girls aged 10-12 who were gathering firewood.

He blamed insurgents, saying the rockets they fire at Afghan security forces often harm civilians.

Afghanistan is littered with unexploded ordnance left by decades of war. It is also plagued by roadside bombs planted by insurgents, which are usually intended for government officials or security forces, but often kill and maim civilians.

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