ISLAMABAD - A Taliban attack on a military base in southern Afghanistan has killed at least 11 government soldiers and wounded as many others, while a major insurgent offensive on a remote western district has triggered deadly clashes.
A Defense Ministry statement said Tuesday the overnight Taliban assault targeted the military base in Shawali Kot district in the Kandahar province, saying ensuing clashes lasted several hours. Officials claimed at least a dozen assailants were killed.
A regional military spokesman, Mohammad Sadiq, told VOA reinforcements were quickly dispatched to the conflict zone and Afghan forces have retaken control of the ground lost in overnight fighting.
Elsewhere in western Afghanistan, authorities said Taliban insurgents staged a major pre-dawn offensive on Qudas district in the province of Badghis, triggering fierce clashes that continued into Tuesday.
The fighting “killed and wounded” at least eight Afghan troops, while assailants also suffered 18 casualties, provincial police chief, Abdul Rauf Taj told VOA. He said government forces beat back the offensive shortly after reinforcements arrived in the area.
A Taliban statement, however, claimed its fighters have captured district army and police headquarters.
On Sunday, authorities confirmed Taliban fighters killed at least 20 Afghan troops and wounded 15 others in the southern Zabul province. The insurgent group also overran a number of security outposts, effectively blocking traffic on the main highway linking the national capital of Kabul with Kandahar.
Part of ‘spring offensive’
The Taliban has ramped up attacks across embattled Afghanistan since launching their so-called yearly “spring offensive” about a month ago.
Just days before unleashing its spring offensive in late April, the Islamist insurgency staged its deadliest attack on a regional military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The raid killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers, though multiple independent sources reported a much higher death toll.
The United States is considering whether to send several thousand military advisers to help boost its existing train, advise and assist mission to enable Afghan forces reverse insurgent gains.
In a quarterly assessment released earlier this month, a U.S. government agency noted the Taliban has continued to inflict “shockingly high” casualties on government forces and brought more territory under its control or influence.
“Afghanistan remains in the grip of a deadly war. Casualties suffered by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents continue to be shockingly high: 807 were killed in the first six weeks of this year,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
About 6,785 Afghan soldiers and police personnel were killed while another 11,777 were wounded in the first 11 months of 2016. The United Nations says civilian casualties resulting from conflict-related incidents have also hit a new high this year.