Taliban murder 11 Afghan soldiers in ambush: officials
At least 11 Afghan soldiers have been killed in a Taliban ambush in western Afghanistan, officials said Monday, as troops face their first fighting season without NATO combat support.
The militants launched their annual spring-summer offensive in late April, vowing nationwide attacks in what is expected to be the bloodiest summer for a decade.
Afghan troops and police, stretched on multiple fronts and facing record casualties, are struggling to rein in the militants even as the government makes repeated efforts to jump-start peace negotiations.
“The Taliban ambushed a convoy of soldiers in Karukh district of Herat, killing 11 Afghan army soldiers last evening. The soldiers were riding in pickup trucks,” Ehsanullah Hayat, spokesman for the governor of the western province of Herat, told AFP.
Najibullah Najibi, a spokesman for the army in western Afghanistan, confirmed the attack and said four soldiers were wounded.
The Taliban have stepped up their attacks on Afghan security forces since the start of their spring offensive, named (Determination) this year.
NATO’s combat mission formally ended in December after 13 years, but a small follow-up foreign force named Resolute Support has stayed on to train and support local security forces.
In a separate incident dozens of protesters took to the streets in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province north of Kabul, on Monday to complain about an operation by foreign forces overnight.
They were unhappy that a house was raided and an ammunition cache destroyed in the Bayaan district of the province.
The NATO mission confirmed the operation by US forces.
Its aim was “to destroy a cache of munitions that could be used to conduct attacks against Afghans and coalition forces,” a spokesman told AFP.
Protesters set tyres on fire in the main market and chanted anti-American slogans, according to local TV reports.
“The people got angry because they (foreign forces) detonated the cache at midnight while they were sleeping,” said provincial police chief General Mohammad Zaman Mamoozai.