Scores dead in Taliban attacks on security forces in Kandahar, Ghazni

Salaam Times


Afghan security personnel patrol in Jaghatu District, Ghazni Province, September 24. Clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces are on-going in the province, with two attacks on police headquarters October 17 and 19. [Zakeria Hashimi/AFP]

KANDAHAR -- Taliban militants launched two separate attacks on Afghan security installations Thursday (October 19), killing dozens of soldiers in the latest in a series of devastating assaults this week that have left more than 120 Afghans dead.

A group of militants attacked the Chashmo military base in Maiwan District in Kandahar Province around 2.50am, said Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri in a statement.

Two Afghan security personnel were left unhurt and six others are missing, according to Waziri.

Casualty reports varied. A security source in Kandahar put the toll at 50 dead and 20 wounded. Other Afghan officials said at least 43 soldiers were killed and nine others injured. The real figure is likely to be higher because Afghan officials often understate the actual number of casualties, AFP reported.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The militants blasted their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee. More than 10 militants were killed, said the Defence Ministry.

"Unfortunately there is nothing left inside the camp. They burned down everything they found inside," Waziri told AFP. "We have sent a delegation to assess the situation," he said, adding that the base is under Afghan National Army control.

"The two Afghan soldiers who survived the attack resisted the Taliban militants until additional forces were deployed to the area," Rana Tareen, a member of parliament from Kandahar, told Salaam Times.

"The Taliban suffered heavy casualties," she said.

"Such attacks and crimes prove that the Taliban do not believe in peace," she said. "They continue the destruction of their country under the instructions of their foreign supporters."

Fresh attack on Ghazni police

Separately on Thursday, militants besieged a police headquarters in Ghazni Province, attacking it for the second time this week.

Air strikes have been called in to support embattled police in the on-going assault. Two security personnel have been killed so far, Ghazni provincial police chief Mohammad Zaman told AFP. The strikes were not immediately confirmed by coalition forces.

The earlier assault on the police headquarters, which took place October 17, left 25 security personnel and five civilians dead, Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Murad Ali Murad told reporters at the time. Forty-six others were wounded, said officials.

The Taliban's attacks on security installations are part of the militants' attempts to seize control of the area, said Ghazni provincial governor's spokesperson Mohammad Arif Noori.

"Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked Andar District hoping to capture it, but they failed," he told Salaam Times by phone.

"About 600 militants have attacked from Gero, Qarabagh and Nawa districts, and the fighting is on-going," he said, adding that local security forces are resisting.

"The Taliban are using local residents around Andar District as human shields while hiding in houses," he said, adding, "This has so far prevented Afghan forces from targeting the militants."

Rising attacks on security forces

Thursday's attacks take the number of suicide and gun assaults on security installations this week to four. The total death toll has increased to more than 120, including soldiers, police and civilians.

In three out of the four assaults, the Taliban used a Humvee vehicle laden withe explosives to blast their way into their targets.

Tuesday's attacks alone killed 80 people and wounded nearly 300 in the bloodiest day in Afghanistan in almost five months.

The deadliest of Tuesday's assaults was on a police compound in the city of Gardez, Paktia Province, where Taliban militants disguised as police detonated three explosive-packed vehicles -- including a truck and a Humvee -- that cleared the way for 11 gunmen to enter.

At least 60 Afghans, including Paktia police chief Toryalai Abdyani and civilians waiting to collect documents, were killed in the blasts and ensuing five-hour battle, health officials said.

[Sulaiman from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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