Afghan coal mine collapse kills at least 15 people

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A coal mine collapse in northern Afghanistan killed at least 15 workers on Wednesday, an official said.

Two other miners were missing in the collapse Wednesday morning in the remote district of Dara Seuf in Samangan province, provincial Gov. Hirullah Anush said . He said the bodies of the 15 workers were recovered from the rubble.

Anush said the province has about 2,000 coal mines that are technically legal, since they pay tax to the government. But the mines operate in difficult conditions with workers using shovels and pick axes.

He said the provincial government has tried to shut down some mines deemed unsafe, but those in remote areas simply reopen. Most of the coal extracted is burned for heat in the winter or exported to Kabul or Pakistan.

Also Wednesday, Taliban insurgents attacked a security checkpoint and killed one police officer in Badakhshan province in the northeast, the provincial governor said. The police fought off the attack and killed eight of the insurgents, Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said.

One police officer and four Taliban were wounded in the fighting, he said.

The Taliban insurgency have been launching near daily attacks around the country as foreign forces prepare to withdraw with the end of the mission at the end of this year, 13 years after the U.S.-led invasion to drive the radical Islamic movement's government from power for sheltering al-Qaida's terrorist leadership.

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