News / Asia

Despite Massive Taliban Death Toll No Drop in Insurgency

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier is seen through damaged glass as he keeps watch at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, Feb. 24, 2014
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier is seen through damaged glass as he keeps watch at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, Feb. 24, 2014
Afghan police and army units are killing an average of 12 Taliban fighters every day but according to experts the high death toll is having little effect on Taliban recruitment efforts or the group’s ability to stage attacks. 

Fighting that led to the initial collapse of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in late 2001 did not come with heavy casualties, but now 13 years later, as the U.S. is set to end its combat mission the Taliban casualty rate has skyrocketed. 

As they take the lead in the war effort, Afghan army and police killed over 720 Taliban insurgents in January-February 2014, according to official news releases compiled by VOA Dari Service.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry sends news statements on almost daily basis describing military operations by police forces in different parts of the country in which Taliban casualty figures (killed and wounded) are noted. 

Since the interior ministry’s news statements report less than 50 arrests of Taliban fighters in January and February but that more than 720 were killed during the same period, the data indicates that Afghan security forces are mostly killing Taliban fighters than capturing them.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, confirmed the authenticity of the casualty figures gathered by VOA and said those killed included foreign citizens.

“Among the terrorists killed were citizens of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Arab countries and Chechnya,” said Danish who could not provide precise figures for each nationality. 

Zabihullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, repudiated the interior ministry’s figures saying the numbers were inflated to boost the morale of government forces.

Over 300,000 Afghan security forces, police and army, are fighting Taliban insurgency but the country’s defense ministry does not regularly release insurgents’ casualty numbers resulting from its own counterinsurgency operations.

There are still about 60,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban but a NATO spokesman said the allies are not recording enemy casualty numbers.

A regenerating force

Since 2001 the Taliban have regrouped, mostly in sanctuaries in Pakistan, and have launched an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan.

It’s unclear how many Taliban have been killed over the past 13 years but estimates vary from 20,000 to 35,000.

Just over a decade ago in the early years of the insurgency, the Taliban were a hit-and-run force of about 2,000 foot soldiers but as much as efforts to kill them have intensified so have their regenerating capacity, experts say.

In 2014, the core Taliban force is estimated at over 60,000, according to Matt Waldman, a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House.

“Afghan security forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban," said Waldman adding that the heavy death toll had not weakened the insurgency.

Casualties are highest among the Taliban’s rank-and-file members while their leaders have largely been spared, living in safe havens in remote parts of Afghanistan or across the border in Pakistan.   Experts say targeting these leaders would do more to defeat the insurgency than focusing on killing large numbers of foot soldiers. 

U.S. drones strikes and other counterterrorism measures which have been largely carried out in the  tribal areas of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province have killed many Pakistan Taliban leaders but most Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding out in Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.  

Other casualties

For the first time in over a decade of war against Taliban, the Afghan government has listed the casualty figures for Afghan security forces.

At least 13,700 Afghan police officers and army soldiers have been killed in the war with more than 16,500 others wounded, according to a statement issued by President Hamid Karzai’s office on March 2.

More than 3,420 NATO allied forces, among them 2,315 U.S. service personnel have died in the war, according to iCasualties website.

Additionally, about 15,000 Afghan civilians have also lost their lives in the war since 2007, according to the United Nations.

Excluding civilian casualties prior to 2007, before the U.N. began recording them, the Afghan war has cost more than 32,000 lives – Afghans and foreigners. This figure does not count the thousands of Taliban fatalities. 

And it does not count the more than one million Afghans who died between 1979 and 1989, after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, or the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who died in a the brutal civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal. 

By some accounts at least two million Afghans have died in more than 35 years of nearly continuous conflict.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid