Taliban attack Afghan government post near Iran border, killing 20 troops

Afghan forces are dying in record numbers with Afghan and US officials warning that the casualty rate is not sustainable. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Taliban attack Afghan government post near Iran border, killing 20 troops

  • At least 20 soldiers were known to have been killed, several wounded and the others were missing
  • Afghan forces are dying in record numbers with Afghan and US officials warning that the casualty rate is not sustainable

KABUL: Taliban militants attacked a border outpost in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 20 government soldiers in the latest assault likely to compound fears that the security forces are facing an unsustainable casualty toll.
Sparsely populated Farah, on the border with Iran, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds police and soldiers killed. The Taliban threatened to seize the provincial capital in May.
In the latest violence in the province, the insurgents assaulted the border post manned by about 50 Afghan government soldiers before dawn, officials in the area said.
At least 20 soldiers were known to have been killed, several wounded and the others were missing, said a senior military officer who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to media.
“Hours after the attack, we lost contact with the base and we still do not know the whereabouts of the remaining soldiers,” the officer said.
The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and overthrow the Western-backed Kabul government, claimed responsibility saying they had captured the base, killed 30 soldiers and seized weapons and ammunition.
Some officials in Farah have accused Iran, which the United States says is trying to extend its influence in western Afghanistan, of providing the insurgents with money and weapons. Iran denies the accusation.
The attack underlined the struggle Afghan security forces face in confronting the insurgents, who have steadily extended their control in the countryside, even though the government holds all provincial centers.
On Monday, the militants captured an important security post outside the central city of Ghazni, killing 13 members of government forces and underscoring their vulnerability even in areas where defenses have been bolstered.
More than 17 years after US-led forces toppled the Taliban regime, Afghan forces are dying in record numbers with Afghan and US officials warning that the casualty rate is not sustainable.
In September alone, more than 500 Afghan soldiers were killed and hundreds wounded, the Defense Ministry said.
Tentative steps toward peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have had no impact on the level of attacks.
The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month. The Taliban will also join multilateral peace talks hosted by Russia this week.


Pakistan PM Imran Khan fires back after criticism from Donald Trump

Updated 57 min 19 sec ago
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Pakistan PM Imran Khan fires back after criticism from Donald Trump

  • Imran Khan tweeted that Pakistan had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the “US War on Terror”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister fired back Monday after President Donald Trump accused the country of harboring Osama bin Laden despite getting billions of dollars in American aid.
Imran Khan tweeted that Pakistan had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123 billion in the “US War on Terror,” despite the fact that no Pakistanis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the US has only provided a “minuscule” $20 billion in aid.
US commandos killed bin Laden in a May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he had been living in seclusion in a house near a well-known military academy. Pakistan denies it knew bin Laden’s whereabouts prior to the raid, which was carried out without its knowledge. It later arrested Dr. Shakil Afridi, who had run a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to help the CIA confirm bin Laden’s whereabouts.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said “everybody in Pakistan” knew bin Laden was there and no one said anything despite the US providing $1.3 billion a year in aid. Trump said he had cut off the aid “because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
The US and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to Islamic extremists and of harboring leaders of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan denies those allegations, pointing to the heavy toll of its war against the Pakistani Taliban, a separate militant group that carries out attacks inside Pakistan.
Khan said Pakistan’s tribal areas along the border have been devastated by years of war, with millions uprooted from their homes.
He also pointed to the logistical support Pakistan has provided for the US war in Afghanistan. The main overland supply route for American forces fighting in Afghanistan runs through Pakistan.
Khan said the US has made Pakistan a “scapegoat” for its failures in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are stronger than at any point since the 2001 US-led invasion.