Hundreds of Taleban fighters storm Afghan border district

Afghan National Army soldiers march during a military base ceremony in February 2019. PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (BLOOMBERG) - At least 50 Afghan troops were killed or wounded in an ongoing battle in a northern district bordering Turkmenistan after it was stormed by about 500 Taleban fighters late on Wednesday (April 3).

Taleban militants overran several check posts in the Bala Murghab district, said Mr Abdul Aziz Beg, the head of the Western Badghis provincial council, who confirmed the casualty numbers.

Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a statement that tens of Afghan soldiers were killed and wounded.

The fighting is "tense" and air strikes are being launched against the Taleban as deputy defence minister, General Yasin Zia, arrived in the area on Thursday to help boost morale and reinforce the Afghan army, said Mr Qais Mangal, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry.

Mr Mangal was unable to provide figures on the numbers killed or wounded, and claimed that the Taleban suffered "heavy casualties" and were on the run.

The Taleban have launched a fresh wave of attacks as part of its usual Spring offensive, even as its leadership continues to hold peace talks with the United States with the aim of ending the now 18-year conflict.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the US and its Nato allies had made "great strides in Afghanistan", but that the war was also "unfortunate" and "ridiculous".

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