The deadliest of the two attacks targeting a checkpoint in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, the heartland of the Taliban. There, gunmen stormed the checkpoint in Maiwand district, killing at least five officers, police spokesman Zia Durani said.
    
Durani said police launched an investigation into the assault amid indications one or more of the attackers wore police uniforms.
    
In western Herat province, another Taliban assault on a checkpoint killed four police officers in Chashti Sharif district, said Ghulam Rasoul, a district police chief. He said a police officer assigned the checkpoint disappeared after the attack, raising suspicion he escaped with the Taliban and helped facilitate their assault.
    
The Taliban claimed both attacks.
    
So-called "insider attacks" have plagued both NATO and Afghan forces over recent years. Their victims include a US two-star general, the highest-ranking American war casualty since Vietnam.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks on Afghan soldiers and security forces in recent months. US and NATO forces concluded their combat mission at the end of last year and Afghan troops since have taken control of the country's security. That's caused Afghan casualties to spike.
    
Meanwhile today, the Afghan government terminated all oil contracts for its Defense Ministry after allegations of massive fraud, presidential spokesman Nazifullah Salarzai said. Salarzai said a new round of bidding would begin soon and those suspended over the scandal were not allowed to leave the country. Salarzai did not elaborate on how much authorities believe was stolen in the contracts, worth some USD 215 million over three years.

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