Taliban kill 22 Afghan troops in assault on checkpoints
Kabul: An overnight Taliban assault on checkpoints in northern Afghanistan killed 22 troops, after some 100 Afghan forces fled heavy fighting in the country's west last week and tried to cross into neighbouring Turkmenistan, officials
said on Sunday.
The two battles mark the latest setbacks for the country's battered security forces, who come under daily attack and have suffered staggering casualties in recent years.
The attacks have continued even as the Taliban have been holding direct negotiations with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.
Mohammad Tahir Rahmani, head of provincial council in the northern Faryab province, said the insurgents launched the attack late Saturday against checkpoints manned by police and pro-government militias in Qaisar district, setting off a fierce gunbattle that lasted into Sunday morning.
The army sent in reinforcements, who were among those killed.
He said another 20 Afghan forces were wounded in the attack.
"The Taliban have gained control of more areas in the district" after stepping up attacks in recent weeks, Rahmani said, adding that troops reinforcements have arrived from the capital Provincial police spokesman Karim Yuresh confirmed that a large number of Taliban launched attacks in Faryab, but he could not immediately provide more details.
Last week, around 100 Afghan soldiers in the western Badghis province fled their posts and tried to cross the border during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, officials said Sunday.
Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial council member in Badghis, said the soldiers weren't allowed to cross the border and their fate remains unknown. The Taliban have posted pictures of captured soldiers on social media.
Jamshid Shahabi, the provincial governor's spokesman, said 16 soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded during the ongoing battle in the Bala Murghab district, in which the military carried out airstrikes and dispatched reinforcements.
He said a number of soldiers tried to flee, without providing an exact figure. Shahabi said more than 40 insurgents were killed in the fighting.