Militants raze base in Maiwand to ground
Taliban forces nearly wiped out an entire Afghan army post, killing 43 soldiers, when they stormed a base with suicide bombers in the strife-torn southern province of Kandahar and launched two other attacks that killed an additional 15 people.
In total, 58 police officers died in a bloody string of attacks on military facilities that followed suicide bomb attacks earlier this week that killed 74 people in three provinces.
The attack in Kandahar’s Maiwand district took place Wednesday night after two Humvees packed with explosives were driven into an Afghan National Army base, where 60 soldiers were stationed.
Taliban fighters then assaulted the facility, setting off several hours of fighting that killed nearly every Afghan soldier there and wounded nine. The battle ended with a U.S. airstrike that killed nine Taliban fighters, NATO officials said.
Dawlat Waziri, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said just two soldiers remained unharmed on the base, while six were missing. The others were injured. The militants razed the base in the Chashmo area of Maiwand district in Kandahar province to the ground, according to the ministry.
“Unfortunately there is nothing left inside the camp. They have burned down everything they found inside,” defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.
Just two soldiers were known to have survived unscathed, with six unaccounted for, the ministry said, underscoring the shocking casualties that Afghan security forces have faced in their struggle to beat back the insurgents.
US planes carried out an airstrike during a counter-terror operation in Maiwand on Thursday, a spokesman for US Forces in Kabul said, though he did not specify whether the target was insurgents at the base. Provincial officials said two Humvee vehicles were used in the attack which was condemned by President Ashraf Ghani. They said the assault may have been carried out with insider help.
The Taliban claimed the ambush in a message to journalists that said all 60 security personnel on the base were killed. “We have sent a delegation to assess the situation. The base is under ANA [Afghan National Army] control,” Waziri added.
Separately Thursday, militants besieged a police headquarters in the southeastern province of Ghazni, attacking it for the second time this week. In three out of the four assaults this week the Taliban used a Humvee vehicle as a bomb to blast their way into their targets.
US President Donald Trump vowed earlier this year to stay the course in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. But the Taliban said the recent assaults were a “clear message to the Americans and the Kabul government, that they cannot scare us with their new so-called strategy”.
“We are fighting back and winning on every front, Inshallah [God willing],” spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi told AFP. “The enemy who thought they had scared us with the new Trump strategy have now been given a lesson.”
Meanwhile, at least four people were reportedly killed in a drone attack in the Jahwaray Sar area of Paktia province near the Pak-Afghan border. Sources informed that two missiles were fired at a suspected terrorist hideout.