Monday, 25 March 2019 05:47

Taliban Said to Have Killed 65 Afghan Forces

Officials in Afghanistan said Sunday ongoing fierce clashes with Taliban insurgents in southern Helmand province have killed dozens of government forces.

The fighting in the volatile Sangin district erupted after the Taliban launched a major predawn offensive on Saturday against several security outposts.

A provincial government spokesman, Omar Zwak, told VOA the attack "killed and wounded tens of security forces," but he gave no further details.

Senator Mohammed Hashim Alokozai, who is from Sangin and sits on the defense committee of the Afghan parliament, told VOA the insurgent attack killed at least 65 pro-government forces, including 48 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel, and injured 38 others.

Alokozai said the military casualties occurred when the Taliban ambushed an ANA convoy that was heading to the conflict zone in Sangin to help push back the insurgents. The clashes were still continuing in the area, he added.

A Taliban spokesman said its forces overran two bases in Sangin and killed at least 52 soldiers.

The Defense Ministry in Kabul confirmed the fighting in the volatile southern district but said officials were still gathering battlefield details.

The Taliban has conducted big attacks in other Afghan provinces this month, killing dozens of police and soldiers. Clashes with the insurgents in northern Kunduz province on Friday also killed two American soldiers, according to the U.S. military.

Pro-government forces in Afghanistan have suffered heavy casualties in recent years while battling the Taliban. But Afghan officials have been barred from releasing battlefield casualty information to media since 2017.

President Ashraf Ghani revealed in January for the first time that more than 45,000 members of Afghanistan's security forces have been killed since he took office in September 2014.

The Taliban continues to stage major attacks against Afghan forces while it is engaged in a dialogue process with the United States to negotiate an end to the war. The two sides are due to reconvene later this month in Qatar to further discussions after having reached a preliminary draft agreement during 16 days of talks that concluded on March 12 in the Qatari capital of Doha.


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