Taliban kill dozens of Afghan police in nighttime attacks
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 Talibancontrolled 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 laser-guided 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 nightvision 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.
Now, the Taliban have apparently managed to obtain the same technology. “Night-vision equipment is used in ambushes by the insurgents and it is very effective,” said Maj. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Defense Ministry. “You can see your enemy, but they cannot see you coming.”
While Afghan soldiers often have night-vision equipment, police officers usually do not.
Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban in the south and west of the country, boasted of the insurgents’ use of the technology. “Usually we are using laser weapons and night visions on night attacks, and we definitely used night visions and laser weapons for that attack as well,” he said, reached by cellphone at an undisclosed location. He appeared to be referring to laser systems used as gunsights.