Three judges killed at Taliban checkpoint in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have ambushed and shot dead three Afghan judges and a court staffer while they were traveling from the southeastern province of Paktia to Kabul, local officials say. 

Abdullah Hasrat, a spokesman for the governor in eastern Paktia province, said on Thursday that the attack took place in Mohammad Agha district of neighboring Logar province. 

"They were travelling in a car but were stopped by the Taliban checkpoint on the road," media outlets quoted Hasrat as saying. 

The militant group, which has been blamed for previous ambushes on the highway linking Logar province to the Afghan capital, did not confirm it was behind the latest assault. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was not aware of the attack but would check with local commanders. 

Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Kabul government have long targeted the judiciary in retaliation for harsh sentences given to their fighters. 

As Afghan police casualties mounted, the government this year pulled back from hundreds of checkpoints in isolated areas that acted as a magnet for Taliban attacks. 

Many Afghans complain that militant groups have now set up checkpoints along the main highways, searching cars and looking for government employees.

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