KABUL, May 11: About 100 Taliban on Wednesday fought with security forces in a northern Afghan village, and a military helicopter crashed as it ferried reinforcements to an even larger battle in the northeast.
Mohammed Zareen, a spokesman for the Nuristan government, said nine people were injured when the Afghan MI-17 Defence Ministry helicopter crashed after hitting a tree. It was one of four ferrying a unit of the National Intelligence Service’s rapid reaction force. They were being escorted by two Afghan attack helicopters.
The unit was sent to bolster police who late on Tuesday managed to stop a large-scale assault by about 400 Taliban against four outposts just south of Nuristan’s capital Parun. Security forces in the area remained on high alert.
Afghan police were also engaged in fierce battles with about 100 Taliban fighters on motorcycles who attacked the Abdurrahman village in the northern Jawzjan province late on Tuesday.
In an overnight firefight that raged intensely for two hours, 17 Taliban fighters and one villager were killed, provincial police chief Abdul Aziz Ghyrat said. The fighting ended shortly before dawn, he added.
The villagers fought the attackers themselves until reinforcements arrived in the form of Afghan police, army and Nato air support, Mr Ghyrat said. Among the dead militants was a local Taliban commander who had planned bombings and attacks in the region, he added.
The Taliban have launched a series of large-scale attacks around Afghanistan over the past five days, and they are part of the Taliban’s long-awaited spring offensive. As part of the campaign, the Taliban have also said they plan to assassinate government officials and anyone working with US-led invading forces.
The effectiveness of the Taliban’s campaign could influence the size of President Barack Obama’s planned drawdown of US troops in July, the scale of which military officials have said will depend on conditions on the ground.
“Recently the enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan have launched a number of terrorist and organised attacks,” said Latifullah Mashal, a spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service. He added that some planned attacks were thwarted.—AP