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30 Afghan soldiers killed in latest battlefield reversal

A U.S. Special Operations soldier returns fire while conducting Afghan-led offensive operations against the Taliban in Logar province, Afghanistan, on July 28, 2018. Logar borders Ghazni province, whose capital was stormed by the Taliban on Aug. 10, 2018, part of a string of attacks in the run-up to an expected cease-fire.

NICHOLAS BYERS/U.S. AIR FORCE

By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 15, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban stormed two small bases in northern Baghlan province on Wednesday, killing dozens of Afghan troops and police officers — the latest in a string of battlefield successes by the guerrillas, officials said.

Clashes continued throughout the morning at the bases in Baghlan-e-Markazi district and left at least 30 soldiers and 10 police officers dead, said Mohammad Safdar Mohseni, head of the provincial council.

The Baghlan governor’s office confirmed the attack and said there were casualties on both sides but was unable to say how many.

The incident came two days after Taliban fighters captured a military base in Faryab province, killing or wounding more than three dozen soldiers, government officials said. The Taliban said that 74 Afghan troops surrendered and that they were able to capture eight military Humvees.

On Friday, in their most significant attack so far this summer, the Taliban stormed Ghazni city, about 100 miles southwest of Kabul, and engaged in days of heavy fighting.

Local officials said a clearing operation was still underway on Wednesday.

About 100 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in the clashes, Ghafor Ahmad Jawed, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told Stars and Stripes. The United Nations cited reports that there may have been up to 150 civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, more than 220 Taliban guerrillas were killed by U.S. airstrikes over Ghazni, according to United States Forces-Afghanistan.

The recent escalation in fighting has disrupted months of optimism over advances in the current peace process — which included an unprecedented three-day truce by the Taliban, the government and its international backers in June. It comes before another cease-fire was expected to start next week to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Last month, the government said it was considering the second cease-fire, but it remained unclear whether the recent violence would affect those considerations.

Reuters on Tuesday reported that the Taliban are also considering laying down their arms over Eid al-Adha.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

wellman.phillip@stripes.com
Twitter: @pwwellman

 

An aerial photograph of Highway1 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018. U.S. Forces-Afghanistan says the road was open to traffic after Taliban militants stormed the city.
U.S. FORCES-AFGHANISTAN

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