Hundreds of people have been killed and 15 beheaded following conflict in the Ghanzi province of Afghanistan, prompting fears that the area will fall to insurgents.

Police officials in the area said Ghazni’s provincial government has lost contact with police in the western district of Ajrestan, following the five-day conflict.

Ghazni is strategically located southwest of the capital, Kabul.

According to government officials in the province, more than 100 hundred people have died since Monday, including 15 beheadings carried out by militants.

Provincial authorities have appealed to the Afghan government for reinforcements but say so far none has come.

New president Ashraf Ghani is in the process of taking over from Hamid Karzai.

An army unit reported that fighting was continuing to rage late on Friday.

Asadullah Safi, deputy police chief for Ghanzi, said "if there is no urgent help from the central government, the district will collapse."

The battle for Ajrestan illustrates the grave challenges facing Afghanistan's new president and the security forces in holding territory as foreign combat troops prepare to leave at the end of the year.

No longer pinned down by US air cover, Taliban fighters are attacking Afghan military posts in large numbers with the aim of taking and holding ground.

Ghazni is on the main highway linking Kabul to southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been making advances in recent months.

Mr Safi said a suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint early today before provincial authorities lost contact with the district.