News / Asia

Hundreds of Taliban Fighters Battle Afghan Forces Near Kabul

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the Independence Day ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the Independence Day ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2014.
Reuters

As many as 700 heavily armed Taliban insurgents are battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province near the capital Kabul, local officials said on Tuesday, in a test of the Afghan military's strength as foreign forces pull out of the country.

Militants have this summer mounted increasingly intensive assaults across several provinces, often involving hundreds of fighters, as the country braces to stand on its own feet militarily for the first time in nearly 13 years.

“There are some 700 of them and they are fighting Afghan forces for territorial control and they have also brought with them makeshift mobile (health) clinics,” Niaz Mohammad Amiri, the provincial governor of Logar province, told Reuters by telephone.

The Taliban have dug-in in Logar, which lies about an hour's drive south of Kabul, and nearby Wardak province to the west, in recent years. They have used the provinces - gateways to the capital - as launch pads for hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings on Kabul.

The main roads into the capital are all tightly controlled, but the militants have still been able to breach the checkpoints and staged dozens of attacks, killing scores of civilians and soldiers in the city of about five million this year.

Abdul Hakim Esaaqzai, the police chief of Logar province, said the insurgents, armed with heavy machine guns, were fighting Afghan forces from residential areas in Charkh district.

“We are being extra careful not to cause any civilian casualties. We have enough forces to deal with it,” Esaaqzai said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the militants were battling Afghan forces from all sides to overrun the district. “The area is under siege and we have already taken over many security outposts and killed many Afghan forces,” he told Reuters by telephone.

The fighting in Logar is a grim reminder of the insecurity plaguing Afghanistan as the foreign combat troops wind down their military operations ahead a deadline to leave the country by the end of the year.

Afghanistan's security arrangements beyond 2014 are unclear, as Kabul and Washington have yet to sign a bilateral security agreement designed to keep a small force of American soldiers in Afghanistan next year and into 2016.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, although the two men vying to replace him have vowed to implement it immediately upon taking office. However, four months after going to the polls, a winner in the presidential poll is still not clear.

Taliban challenge

The International Crisis Group said in a report earlier this year that the number of Islamist insurgent attacks had increased by 15-20 percent in 2013 from a year earlier.

The insurgents' success, however, has been limited. They have yet to capture an entire province, and the government says strategic assets remain broadly under its control.

Nevertheless, the mounting intensity of the Taliban's assaults poses an increasingly serious challenge to local security forces that have long relied on NATO support from the air.

With less and less U.S. air cover, Taliban fighters have changed tactics and now attack Afghan military posts in larger numbers with the aim of taking and holding ground, a shift from the hit-and-run strikes with posses of gunmen, explosives and suicide bombers.

“The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have the lead for security of the nation. They are trained, capable, and prepared to face any challenge,” said Major Paul Greenberg, a public affairs officer at ISAF Joint Command.

“ISAF will continue to back up the ANSF and provide support, to include aviation assets upon request of the ANSF,” he added.

In this year's summer offensive, the Taliban appears to have mostly focused on gaining ground in strategic parts of the country, like border crossings or highways that facilitate the export of opium, the financial lifeblood of their insurgency.

Afghan officials say uncertainty in Kabul over the outcome of this year's presidential election to choose Karzai's successor has added to the vulnerability of the security forces.

Two months have passed since the run-off round of the election was held, but a winner has yet to emerge due to accusations of mass fraud and rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have both claimed victory. 

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
August 19, 2014 9:40 PM
Sad to see tha the Afghan forces do not have the capability to destroy the Taliban, once the Taliban start concentrating forces. The other very negative issue is the opium trade, it has not been disrupted, thus the Taliban continue to garner resources from this drug trade.
The Afghan forces need to develop better strategies and essentially outflank the Taliban; given the very rough/steep territory, the Afghan forces should be able to predict the operational path of the Taliban. It is clear that Afghan forces will need to be better capable of using long range artillery to confront/defeat the Taliban; an Air force is out of question, because it would take years to enable Afghan forces to use it effectively, and more difficult even, to maintain it. Let us hope that Afghan forces succeed against the Taliban.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid