Taleban militants kill 30 Afghan soldiers, take base in first major attack since ceasefire

Taleban militants posing with Afghan Army soldiers as they visit the government-controlled areas to greet people as a goodwill gesture amid a three-day ceasefire on the third day of Eid al-Fitr, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on June 17, 2018.
Taleban militants posing with Afghan Army soldiers as they visit the government-controlled areas to greet people as a goodwill gesture amid a three-day ceasefire on the third day of Eid al-Fitr, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on June 17, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KABUL (REUTERS) - Taleban militants killed 30 Afghan soldiers and captured a military base in the western province of Badghis on Wednesday (June 20), the provincial governor said, their first major attack since a ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The three-day Taleban ceasefire ended on Sunday.

Provincial governor Abdul Qafoor Malikzai said the Taleban attacked two security posts in the early hours. Mr Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council, said one military base was targeted, in the district of Balamerghab.

"Large numbers of Taleban came from several directions," Mr Bek said. "After hours of heavy fighting 30 Afghan security forces were killed and the Taleban captured the base."

Fifteen Taleban were killed in other areas of the province overnight, he said, adding that the militants prepared their attacks and did reconnaissance of the area during their ceasefire.

The Taleban did not immediately comment on the attacks.

Mr Naqibullah Amini, spokesman for the Badghis police, confirmed the death of 30 soldiers and said the Taleban killed four soldiers in separate attacks on security checkpoints in the same district.

 
 

The government also called a ceasefire for the holiday and Taleban fighters headed into cities across the country over the weekend as both sides celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

President Ashraf Ghani extended his unilateral ceasefire, initially due to end on Wednesday, by 10 days.

Some have criticised his ceasefire, which allowed the Taleban to freely enter government-held areas, including the capital, Kabul.

"The consequences could be disastrous," a senior Western diplomat in Kabul said this week.

The Taleban are fighting to oust US-led Nato forces combined and defeat President Ghani's US-backed government to restore syaria, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US-led forces in 2001.