Taliban fighters attacked and overran several Afghan border police posts Wednesday, killing several police officers in a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan, the provincial governor told The New York Times.

“Twenty-three Afghan border police officers were martyred and seven others were wounded,” Jamaluddin Badar, governor of Nuristan province, was quoted as saying.

Posts in the Gordish Valley in Kamdesh district were burned and several civilians were killed, including three women and two children; several houses also were set on fire, he told the paper.

The Interior Ministry told the Times that 12 police officers were killed. However, since the area is remote and there is little phone coverage, numbers are hard to verify.

Taliban and foreign fighters including Pakistanis mounted the attacks, Badar said. His account was supported by the former governor, Tamim Nuristani, who was in touch with people in Kamdesh.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and accused Pakistani Taliban of carrying it out.

Western officials and Nuristani said that while there are Pakistani fighters who have come over the border as well as Arabs and Uzbeks, the main dynamic in the area is a longtime rivalry between Taliban forces that control the rural areas and Hizb-e-Islami fighters who control the district centers and tend to be more allied with the government.

At stake in Nuristan, the Times noted, are illegal gem and timber smuggling routes, though the province is so remote that the United States hardly has any military presence there.

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