Taliban storm checkpoints, kill 20 Afghan troops

Updated April 10, 2019

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Taliban fighters stormed army checkpoints in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border overnight, killing 20 troops, an official said on Tuesday. — AFP/File
Taliban fighters stormed army checkpoints in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border overnight, killing 20 troops, an official said on Tuesday. — AFP/File

KABUL: Taliban fighters stormed army checkpoints in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border overnight, killing 20 troops, an official said on Tuesday.

Eight other security forces were also wounded in Monday night’s attack in Shorabak district, Mohammad Yousof Younosi, a provincial council member in Kandahar, said.

An official from the provincial governor’s office, who was not authorised to speak with the media, confirmed the attack and said there were casualties among the Afghan forces, but couldn’t provide exact figures.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack and said the group’s fighters also seized weapons and ammunition.

In northern Sari Pul province, at least five members of the country’s security forces were killed when the Taliban attacked a joint army and police base, said Zabihullah Amani, the provincial governor’s spokesman.

He said that seven other forces were wounded in Monday night’s attack in Sangcharak district.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban. Amani said four insurgents were also killed in the ensuing clashes.

In northern Samangan province, an Afghan army officer shot and killed two of his fellow soldiers and later fled to join the Taliban, said Sayed Hashim Bayan, the provincial police chief’s spokesman.

He said the shooter seized a Humvee and some ammunition before making his getaway around noon on Monday.

The Taliban praised the soldier’s actions and confirmed he joined their ranks in Dari Suf district. An Afghan contractor who was believed to have been killed in a car bomb near Kabul is alive, the US military said on Tuesday.

Colonel David Butler, a spokesman for US Forces- Afghanistan, said the Afghan contractor was initially believed to have been killed along with three other US service members in the blast near Bagram air base close to Kabul.

It was only later that they found out the contractor was alive.

The blast, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for, also wounded three US service members.

Violence has been relentless in Afghanistan even though Taliban militants have held several rounds of talks with US officials about a peace settlement. The talks began late last year, raising hopes for an end to the conflict.

Read: Taliban agree to meet Afghan govt officials in Qatar

Monday’s attack was one of the deadliest against US personnel in recent months. In November, a roadside bomb blast killed three US service members near the central Afghan city of Ghazni.

The war has taken a much larger toll on Afghan security forces and civilians.

President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, said about 45,000 members of Afghanistan’s security forces have been killed since he took office in September 2014, which works out to an average of 849 per month.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2019