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Dozens killed in Taliban Afghan attack
October 20, 2017
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KANDAHAR: Militants launched two separate attacks on Afghan security installations killing dozens of soldiers on Thursday, the latest in a series of devastating assaults this week that left more than 120 people dead and underscored spiralling insecurity.

At least 43 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in southern Afghanistan which saw the insurgents blast their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee, the defence ministry said.

The militants then razed the base in the Chashmo area of Maiwand district in Kandahar province to the ground, according to the ministry.

“Unfortunately there is nothing left inside the camp. They have burned down everything they found inside,” defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.

Just two soldiers were known to have survived unscathed, with nine wounded and six unaccounted for, officials said, underscoring the shocking casualties that Afghan security forces have faced in their struggle to beat back the insurgents. Ten militants were killed, the ministry added.

US Forces carried out an airstrike during a counter-terror operation in Maiwand on Thursday, a spokesman for US Forces in Kabul said, though he did not specify whether the target was insurgents at the base.

The Taliban claimed the ambush in a message to journalists that said all 60 security personnel on the base were killed.

“We have sent a delegation to assess the situation. The base is under ANA (Afghan National Army) control,” Waziri added.

An Afghan security source said that the dead and wounded had been taken to Kandahar’s military hospital.

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

Airstrikes have been called in to support embattled police in the ongoing assault, which has killed two security forces so far, Ghazni provincial police chief Mohammad Zaman said, though that was not immediately confirmed by US Forces.

Officials said the earlier assault on the headquarters, which took place on Tuesday, left 20 people dead and 46 wounded.

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

In three out of the four assaults this week the Taliban used a Humvee vehicle as a bomb to blast their way into their targets.

US President Donald Trump vowed earlier this year to stay the course in Afghanistan, America’s longest war.

But the Taliban said the recent assaults were a “clear message to the Americans and the Kabul government, that they cannot scare us with their new so-called strategy.”

“We are fighting back and winning on every front, Inshallah (God willing),” spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi said.

“The enemy who thought they had scared us with the new Trump strategy have now been given a lesson.” Beleaguered Afghan security forces have faced soaring casualties in their attempts to hold back the insurgents since Nato combat forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014.

Casualties leapt by 35 per cent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to US watchdog SIGAR.

The insurgents have carried out more complex attacks against security forces in 2017, with SIGAR describing troop casualties in the early part of the year as “shockingly high.”

Agence France-Presse

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