ISLAMABAD - Several dozen Afghan security personnel have died in several days of heavy fighting with the Taliban in some districts of Ghazni province in Eastern Afghanistan.
A Ghazni provincial council official said Tuesday the Taliban have managed to take control of two districts, Jaghat? and Dehak, after fierce fighting last night. Latifa Akbar, a provincial council member, said 20 police personnel, including the district police chief and the police reserve force commander of Dehak died in the fighting. Afghan government only confirmed 12 deaths.
Taliban insurgents killed another 20 security forces personnel during fighting in a third district, Ajristan, where the insurgents managed to surround the governor’s compound Sunday.
They were pushed back by the Special Forces deployed to provide reinforcements to the security forces on the ground. A spokesman for the unit involved in the fighting said all government installations were under their control. He also claimed the security forces had killed 10 Taliban in the fighting.
Rejecting reports of Taliban takeover of two districts, Arif Noor, a spokesman for the Ghazni provincial governor, said the security forces were still fighting the Taliban even though the police was forced to retreat from its headquarters in both districts.
Meanwhile, an explosion in another province, Kandahar, has left at least six people dead and many others wounded. Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, said a vehicle loaded with ammunition was found parked in a deserted area of Kandahar's district 14 around noon today. The Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) was trying to figure out how to dispose of it safely when the explosion took place.
Doctors at the local Mirwais hospital told VOA on the condition of anonymity that eight security personnel and 21 civilians, including four children, are among the wounded. Most of the victims worked at a car workshop nearby. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The fighting in Ghazni, a province with a strong Taliban presence, followed days of fighting in Farah province in Western Afghanistan. The top United States military commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, visited Farah on Saturday and tried to reassure the population that Farah “will never fall” to the Taliban. Ministers of interior and defense, and the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency accompanied Nicholson on this trip.
Afghan security forces have suffered heavy losses since the Taliban launched their "al-Khandaq" spring offensive last month. In a briefing to the parliament earlier this month, the Afghan defense and interior ministers and the intelligence chief said hundreds had been killed or wounded in Taliban attacks.
However, they told the parliamentarians that Afghan forces had inflicted much heavier casualties on the insurgents and foiled 70 percent of their plans.
Last year, Afghan forces suffered unprecedented casualties, reported to be about 10,000 men.