Insurgents have killed at least 13 Afghan security forces in separate attacks, officials said Sunday, as the country struggles to contain a long-running Taliban insurgency and combat a growing threat from a local Islamic State affiliate.
Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the governor of the northern Balkh province, said a roadside bomb killed nine security forces and wounded several others Saturday night in the Chimtal district, where they were waging an ongoing operation against the Taliban. He said five insurgents have been killed and dozens wounded.
In a separate incident, Islamic State militants attacked the Darzab district headquarters in the neighboring Jawzjan province Saturday night, and gun battles were still underway, said Mohammad Reza Ghafori, spokesman for the provincial governor.
“We have asked for reinforcements as well as air support to battle the IS militants there,” he said.
Four Afghan reinforcements, including a unit commander, were killed in an ambush as they raced to the scene of the clashes, he said.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission more than two years ago and shifted to a support and counterterrorism mission. The Taliban have seized a number of districts across the country, and the fighting is expected to intensify as warmer weather sets in.
The U.S. military had earlier said an American soldier was killed in combat in the eastern Nangarhar province. The soldier was a member of U.S. special operations forces helping Afghan forces battle IS militants in the Achin district, the statement said.
The Islamic State group has a growing presence in eastern Afghanistan, where it has battled both Afghan forces and the much larger and more powerful Taliban.