The surge in Taliban attacks raises concerns about growing instability in the country. The deadliest attack occurred in the Maiwand district of southern Kandahar province, where militants stormed an army base after a suicide attacker slammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the compound, officials said.
Taliban spokesperson Qari Mohammad Yousuf said all the 60 security personnel in the compound were killed in the attack.
But the Defense Ministry’s chief spokesperson Dawlat Waziri told Arab News that of the 60 soldiers present at the base, 43 were killed, nine were wounded, six were missing and two survived. He said 10 militants were also killed. Yousuf did not confirm the death toll on the Taliban’s side.
The number of Taliban attacks against security forces has risen following an increase in US airstrikes since August, when President Donald Trump, as part of a new strategy, pushed for more attacks against the militants.
In two separate attacks, the Taliban killed 12 policemen in 24 hours. This came a day after more than 70 people — most of them security personnel — were killed in a string of Taliban attacks, making this week the bloodiest since April, when militants killed around 140 army personnel in an attack on a military base in the country’s north.
Political analyst Bashir Bezhen cited three reasons for the rise in Taliban attacks: Encouragement from Pakistan in response to the growing proximity between Washington, Kabul and New Delhi; civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes; and security forces’ “incompetent leadership.”
The assault nearly wiped out the Kandahar army camp, Afghan officials were quoted as saying by AP.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban since US and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.
The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.
Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both policemen and civilians. Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, called Tuesday’s onslaught the “biggest terrorist attack this year.”
Over the past two years and after the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops, the Taliban have stepped up attacks and spread from their southern heartland across the country. Attacks in the north have also increased.