Tal­iban kill dozens of po­lice in 2nd at­tack

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Taimoor Shah and Rod Nordland Taimoor Shah and Rod Nordland are New York Times writ­ers.

KAN­DA­HAR, Afghanistan — Per­haps more than 70 Afghan po­lice of­fi­cers and five sol­diers were killed in a series of at­tacks in south­ern and west­ern Afghanistan on Mon­day night and Tues­day, and again the Tal­iban re­port­edly used night-vi­sion tech­nol­ogy in the at­tacks, po­lice of­fi­cials said.

Matiul­lah Hel­lal, spokesman for the po­lice in Kan­da­har prov­ince, said 22 po­lice of­fi­cers were killed and 15 wounded in the lat­est at­tacks there overnight, on 15 small po­lice posts in the Mai­wand and Zhare dis­tricts near the bor­der with Hel­mand prov­ince. Hel­mand is a largely Tal­iban-con­trolled prov­ince, un­like Kan­da­har.

The at­tack­ers were aided, Hel­lal said, by “mod­ern weapons like lasers and night-vi­sion gog­gles,” and in one in­stance they used a stolen po­lice truck to ap­proach their tar­gets. Sim­i­lar tac­tics were de­scribed in a Tal­iban at­tack the night be­fore, in the west­ern prov­ince of Farah.

In the Kan­da­har am­bushes, Hel­lal said that none of the posts were cap­tured, and that the po­lice were able to in­flict heavy ca­su­al­ties on the Tal­iban as well.

How­ever, a po­lice of­fi­cial in the area, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause his ac­count con­tra­dicted the of­fi­cial ver­sion, said that losses by the po­lice were far worse than an­nounced. He put the num­ber of dead of­fi­cers at 70, and said the po­lice posts the Tal­iban at­tacked, which he said num­bered 18, were com­pletely over­run. He said five unit com­man­ders were among the dead.

When po­lice re­in­force­ments were sent to the aid of those posts, the of­fi­cial said, “the Tal­iban were us­ing night-vi­sion gog­gles and the po­lice who were sent were shot by laser­guided weapons against which they could not de­fend them­selves. The po­lice have no night-vi­sion gog­gles at all.”

The of­fi­cial’s ac­count was cor­rob­o­rated by sev­eral other po­lice fig­ures, who also would not com­ment on the record.

Hel­lal, the spokesman, said that of­fi­cers at only a quar­ter of the po­lice posts in Kan­da­har had laser sights on their weapons, and that none of them had night-vi­sion gog­gles.

Afghan of­fi­cials said the killings were the lat­est in a wave of at­tacks by the Tal­iban us­ing night-vi­sion gog­gles, usu­ally with Rus­sian mark­ings. U.S. forces in­tro­duced night-vi­sion tech­nol­ogy in Afghanistan, and U.S. train­ers have in­structed the Afghan Army how to use them to gain an ad­van­tage against the Tal­iban.

While Afghan sol­diers of­ten have night-vi­sion equip­ment, po­lice of­fi­cers usu­ally do not.

Noor Mo­ham­mad / AFP / Getty Im­ages

Afghan mourn­ers pray in front of an Afghan po­lice of­fi­cer killed dur­ing a wave of Tal­iban at­tacks in Hel­mand prov­ince as in­sur­gents step up as­saults on the be­lea­guered se­cu­rity forces.

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