Kabul, Jan 03 (Agencies): The number of Afghan police killed during 2010 fell about seven per cent to 1,292, the Government said on Monday, despite violence spreading across the country as the war entered its tenth year.

Foreign military and civilian casualties are at record levels despite the presence of about 150,000 NATO-led troops, with 2010 the bloodiest year on record since the Taliban were ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Ministry of the Interior spokesman Zemari Bashary said 2,447 Afghan police were wounded, while 5,225 insurgents were killed and 949 wounded. There were a total of 6,716 security incidents in 2010.

The Taliban are at their strongest since they were ousted after they refused to hand over al Qaeda militants, including Osama bin Laden. The Defense Ministry said 821 Afghan soldiers were killed last year.

Brigadier General Josef Blotz, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said, "Before it gets better, unfortunately is has to get worse and this is what we saw toward the end of 2010."

A war strategy review released by US President Barack Obama last month found US and NATO forces were making headway against the Taliban and al Qaeda but serious challenges remain. It said the Taliban's momentum had been arrested in much of Afghanistan and reversed in some areas.

NATO leaders agreed at a summit in Lisbon in November to end combat operations and hand security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. Obama has promised to begin withdrawing US troops from July 2011.

But critics say the 2014 target set by President Hamid Karzai is too ambitious and that there are shortcomings in Afghanistan's security forces, and that setting a target to begin withdrawing troops only emboldens the insurgents.