Taliban Kill 24 Afghan Troops, With Inside Help

Taliban Kill 24 Afghan Troops, With Inside Help


KABUL — A Taliban ambush that appears to have had inside help killed up to 24 Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan early Friday, officials said.

It was the latest Taliban assault on government forces since the militant group signed a peace agreement with the United States on Feb. 29. The Taliban have so far ceased attacks against American and coalition troops, but they have continued to target Afghan government forces.

A group of Taliban fighters attacked a joint police and army outpost around 3 a.m. Friday on the main highway to Kabul in Zabul Province, parts of which are under the militants’ control. Rahmatullah Yarmal, the governor of Zabul Province, said the attackers were aided by at least five police officers who then escaped with the Taliban fighters.

The attackers burned the outpost after killing every man inside, said Haji Malim Kareem, a tribal elder from Qalat, the provincial capital.

The Feb. 29 signing ceremony was preceded by a weeklong “reduction in violence” by all sides, but the Taliban have since ramped up attacks on Afghan forces, targeting remote bases and outposts as they did in Zabul Province on Friday.

“We thought the Taliban would be flexible after announcing a reduction in violence, but they are becoming more aggressive against the security forces,” said Mr. Kareem, the tribal elder.

In a statement, Sediq Sediqqi, Mr. Ghani’s spokesman, said the attack had demonstrated the Taliban’s “commitment for continued violence and against the Afghan peace process.”

Afghan security forces have remained in active defensive positions since Feb. 29 and have not mounted major operations against the Taliban. Such operations in the past have been generally carried out with the help of American troops and aircraft.

The Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Friday that the government would retaliate for the attack, and put the death toll of security force members at 17.

“Afghan National Defense Security Forces will not leave this attack without response,” the ministry said, “and will take the revenge of the blood of the martyrs.”

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.



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