Monday, 23 July 2018

Taliban kill 30 Afghan soldiers in first major attack since ceasefire

Afghan Taliban militants rode a motorbike as they took to the streets to celebrate a ceasefire on the second day of Eid Credit: NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images

KABUL: Taliban militants killed 30 Afghan soldiers and captured a military base in the western province of Badghis on Wednesday, the provincial governor said, their first major attack since a ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The three-day Taliban ceasefire ended on Sunday.

Provincial governor Abdul Ghafoor Malikzai said the Taliban attacked two security posts in the early hours. Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council, said one military base was targeted, in the district of Bala Murghab.

“Large numbers of Taliban came from several directions,” Bek said. “After hours of heavy fighting 30 Afghan security forces were killed and the Taliban captured the base.”

Fifteen Taliban were killed in other areas of the province overnight, he said, adding that the militants prepared their attacks and did reconnaissance of the area during their ceasefire.

The Taliban said heavy fighting was continuing and that so far “tens” of soldiers had been killed.

Naqibullah Amini, the spokesman for the Badghis police, confirmed the death of 30 soldiers and said the Taliban killed four soldiers in separate attacks on security checkpoints in the same district.

The government also called a ceasefire for the holiday and Taliban fighters headed into cities across the country over the weekend as both sides celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

President Ashraf Ghani extended his unilateral ceasefire, initially due to end on Wednesday, by 10 days.

Some have criticized his ceasefire, which allowed the Taliban to freely enter government-held areas, including the capital, Kabul.

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