KUNDUZ - Taliban militants stormed a court in northern Afghanistan on Monday and killed at least seven people including prosecutors, shooting them in their offices at close range, officials said.

The raid was mounted in Kunduz, a city which the insurgents have encircled in recent weeks and attempted to storm, so far without success. Four attackers wearing army uniforms attacked the provincial appeals court, triggering a four-hour gunbattle with Afghan security forces, provincial police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini told AFP.

“They first blew up an explosives-laden car at the gate of the court and then entered the building,” he said. “The attackers killed six court officials and one police. Eight people were wounded,” he said, adding that the militants were also killed.

Taliban abduct police in  Badakhshan province

At least 17 police officers have been abducted by Taliban militants in Afghanistan’s northern Badakhshan province, officials say.

Four officers died when militants attacked the government compound in Wardoj district, police say.

Police say they have despatched units to try to free their colleagues. The attack comes as Nato-led troops steadily withdraw from Afghanistan. On Sunday, Britain marked the end of combat operations there.

Provincial police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai told the BBC that heavy casualties had been inflicted on the Taliban during fighting at the compound.

The attack comes just one day after Nato-led troops reduced their forces as part of a staged withdrawal from Afghanistan.

On Sunday the last US Marines unit and UK combat troops officially ended their Afghan operations, handing over security responsibility to local forces.