The Taliban have killed 28 paramilitary policemen in fighting in southern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday, the latest losses in an ongoing siege of a government-controlled district that could tip into insurgent hands.
One local official said the Taliban executed the police after they had surrendered, but the insurgents denied this and AFP was not immediately able to confirm the claim.
If proven, a mass shooting of dozens of captives would mark a grim new low point in Afghanistan's recent violence, which has been worsening in recent weeks.
The incident occurred in the Gizab district of the southern province of Uruzgan, where intense fighting has raged for days as the Taliban besiege outmanned and outgunned Afghan police and army outposts.
ZelgaiEbadi, a spokesman for the Uruzgan governor, said Taliban fighters offered 28 local and national police a chance to go home if they surrendered Tuesday night.
"But after taking their guns, the Taliban killed them all," Ebadi said.
Provincial council head Amir Mohammad Barekzai confirmed the death toll and said heavy fighting was ongoing.
Barekzai would not say if the men had been killed before or after surrendering.
A third local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the toll at 28-30 police, adding that three policemen managed to escape.