At least eight members of the Afghan security forces are reported to have been killed in an attack by Taliban fighters on a police outpost in the western Afghan province of Farah.
Officials said the outpost of the government-sponsored militia, known as the Afghan Local Police, was stormed late on April 4 in the province's Khaki Safed district.
The Afghan Local Police is an anti-Taliban initiative in which locals are recruited to protect their own villages from militant attacks.
Provincial police chief Shamsul Rahman Zahid said four militiamen survived the attack.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed Taliban responsibility.
The attack came after at least 12 people, including at least three U.S. soldiers and a number of Afghan police officers, were reported killed in an attack by a Taliban suicide bomber in the northwestern Faryab Province
on April 4.
Around 100 NATO troops, more than half of them Americans, are reported to have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan.
Surge Of Violence
Earlier this week, six people including four policemen were shot dead at a police post in the southern province of Helmand, which neighbors Farah. And days earlier, a police officer in Paktika Province shot dead nine of his colleagues while they slept.
The attacks appear to be part of a surge of violence at the beginning of what's known in Afghanistan as the spring fighting season.
Following the recent burnings of Korans by U.S. personnel and the massacre of 16 Afghan villagers, allegedly by a U.S. soldier, the Taliban have vowed revenge against U.S.-led forces.
The militants also recently quit preliminary talks with U.S. officials and the U.S.-backed Afghan government on a potential peace settlement, in advance of most foreign forces pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014,
The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said he expected to see significant fighting in eastern Afghanistan this summer.
In interview in Kabul with German media, U.S. General John Allen said: "As I look to reduce the numbers of U.S. forces,... I will use significant combat power in the east, anticipating we are going to have some good bit of fighting in the east this year."
The German dpa news agency quoted Allen as also saying that next year, 2013, would be the most critical for the military alliance in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led war started more than a decade ago.
That's because by the end of summer in 2013, he said, the entire population of Afghanistan "will be protected by Afghan security forces in the lead."
Allen also said the training of Afghan forces would not conclude until the end of 2014, when foreign troops are expected to stop all combat operations, with most of them withdrawing from Afghanistan.
The United States is scheduled to pull out 23,000 more troops from Afghanistan by the end of September.
Washington is negotiating a strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government which is to determine what kind of U.S. military presence would remain in Afghanistan after 2014.
With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters