30 Afghan security forces killed in Taliban attacks - officials

2018-06-20 20:19

Taliban fighters killed around 30 Afghan security forces in multiple attacks in western Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday, two days after the group ended its ceasefire.

"More than half of the fatalities came from the ambush and roadside bomb blasts that hit a reinforcement convoy," Badghis provincial governor Abdul Qhafoor Malikzai told AFP.

The other soldiers and police were killed when militants stormed their bases overnight, Qhafoor added.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks in a WhatsApp message to journalists.

Provincial council chief Abdul Aziz Bek confirmed the death toll and accused the Taliban of taking advantage of the suspension in fighting to do reconnaissance in the area.

"During the ceasefire the Taliban had sent informants to collect information about the bases and plan the attack," he told AFP.

Badghis governor spokesperson Jamshid Shahabi told AFP that 15 Taliban fighters were also killed and 21 wounded in the attacks on two bases in Bala Murghab district.

The defence ministry issued a statement saying fighting in the area continued as the Taliban faced "stiff resistance" from Afghan security forces.

Further reinforcements had been deployed, the statement said.

It appeared to be the deadliest fighting since the Taliban returned to the battlefield on Monday after refusing a government request to extend their unprecedented three-day ceasefire.

President Ashraf Ghani announced over the weekend that the government's eight-day ceasefire, which had been scheduled to expire on Tuesday, would be prolonged for another 10 days.

The first formal nationwide ceasefire since the 2001 US-led invasion had sparked extraordinary scenes of Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians happily celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday together.

But the jubilation appeared to alarm Taliban leaders, who on Sunday ordered their fighters to stay at their posts or in areas under their control.

The Taliban hailed the truce as a success and a demonstration of their "full control" over their fighters.

The government's move to extend its ceasefire with the Taliban may buy Ghani more time to work out how to keep the momentum going.

Ghani said on Tuesday he was prepared to extend the ceasefire to a year "if the Taliban accepts it", according to a video of a meeting between the president and a group of peace marchers who arrived in the capital on Monday.

The government's ceasefire does not extend to the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks in the eastern province of Nangarhar over the weekend that marred an otherwise peaceful Eid holiday.

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