An Afghan official says Taliban attacks on a district in the southern province of Helmand province killed at least 24 police officers over the past two days.

Kareem Atal, the director of the provincial council, said Sunday that battles between government forces and militants have been raging in the Kanashin district since late Friday, when the Taliban took control.

The fighting has spread north to other districts, where militants are targeting checkpoints and have killed at least seven policemen, he says.

The police and government compounds in the Nad Ali district are surrounded by insurgents, Atal says. Taliban fighters are also trying to close key highways across the province.

The Taliban have been fighting in Helmand for the past six months. It is a key opium producing and smuggling region.