KABUL: A Taliban attack on an Afghan army security post in the country’s northern Kunduz province has killed at least seven soldiers, a defence spokesman said on Thursday.

Mohammad Radmanish, the deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said the attack took place on Wednesday night in the remote Dashti Archi district in Kunduz.

A gunbattle lasted several hours and along with the seven killed, one soldier was wounded, Radmanish said. He added that 15 Taliban fighters were also killed and 13 were wounded.

However, a local hospital chief, Rahimbakesh Danish Karimi, gave a higher casualty toll for the military, saying bodies of 13 soldiers and nine wounded in the attack were brought to his hospital in Thakhar province, which is the closest medical facility to the attack site.

The conflicting casualty reports could not immediately be reconciled as is common in the aftermath of such attacks. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the officials blamed the Taliban.

Earlier on Thursday, the Taliban ambushed an Afghan government convoy in the country’s eastern province of Logar, killing the deputy provincial governor and his two bodyguards, an official said.

The ambush on Kamaruddin Shekeib’s convoy also seriously wounded Shekeib’s spokesman, said Mohammad Naser Ghyrat, the Logar provincial council chief.

The Taliban control large swaths of Logar, and despite the establishment of dozens of outposts of Afghan security forces along the main road running through the province, insurgent attacks are frequent. Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility for that attack in a statement sent to the media. Taliban announced the start of their new operation dubbed Al Khandaq on Wednesday, vowing to target US forces and their “internal supporters”.

Qamaruddin Shekib, deputy governor for the restive Logar province near Kabul, his two bodyguards and another man were attacked as they drove towards the Afghan capital, provincial police spokesman Shapoor Ahmadzai said.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2018

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