Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 March 2020

Hundreds of Afghan forces trapped in Taliban attack

Thousands of insurgents besiege base in Badghis province as residents struggle with severe flooding

Afghan security forces patrol after a Taliban attack in the city of Farah in May 2018. AFP
Afghan security forces patrol after a Taliban attack in the city of Farah in May 2018. AFP

The Afghan Taliban killed dozens of security personnel and besieged hundreds more in an attack on a government compound and army base in Badghis province.

At least 12 more were killed on Friday, raising the death toll from two days of fighting to 32, local officials said. Many more have been wounded and the area has been cut off.

Soldiers at the base in Bala Murghab district said about 2,000 Taliban fighters were involved in the attack, Mohammad Nasir Nazari, a provincial council member, told Associated Press.

He said there were about 600 Afghan troops and members of the security forces inside and they were running out of ammunition, water and food.

However the Afghan defence ministry said on Friday that its forces had repelled militants after bombing raids and sending reinforcements to the area.

There have been frequent clashes in Bala Murghab in the past two months, and officials have previously warned that it could fall to the Taliban without reinforcements.

The conflict in Badghis has been particularly intense in recent weeks, along with northern Kunduz province and Helmand province in the south. Both sides took heavy casualties in Badghis last month, and at one point 50 members of Afghan security forces surrendered to the Taliban.

Fighting between militant groups has also intensified. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said in a statement on Thursday that ISIS attacks on Taliban positions on March 23 resulted in 21,000 people being displaced in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces.

The Taliban have continued to stage attacks while holding peace talks with the US. The latest round ended last month with both sides citing progress.

Meanwhile, severe flooding hit Badghis province on Thursday, killing an unknown number of people and sweeping away houses, farmland and schools, aid organisation World Vision said.

The floods took Afghans by surprise, coming about a week after previous floods, and were triggered by only moderate rains, the organisation said.

Afghanistan has little infrastructure, such as ditches and sewers, to manage water run-off.

World Vision said it did not yet have an estimate of the number of people affected.

Updated: April 5, 2019 01:30 PM



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