Badghis Province
Badghis Province

KABUL - The Taliban launched a brazen attack under the cover of darkness early Thursday on an Afghan government compound in western Badghis province, killing at least 20 soldiers and policemen, officials said.

It was the latest attack by the Taliban who target Afghan forces on a daily basis even as they hold talks with a U.S. peace envoy. Fighting continued into the day and early afternoon in Badghis, and officials expressed fears the casualty tolls would be much higher.

According to Mohammad Nasir Nazari, a provincial councilmember, the “massive attack” in Badghis took place before dawn, targeting the local government’s headquarters in the district of Bala.

FILE - Afghan border police walk the Afghanistan side of the border with Tajikistan, in Ishkashim, Badakhshan province, far northeastern Afghanistan, Aug. 16, 2016.
Afghan Forces Reclaim Key District From Taliban
Authorities in Afghanistan say a military-led counteroffensive has evicted the Taliban from a strategically important district in northeastern Badakhshan province, inflicting heavy casualties on retreating insurgents.The Taliban had late last week overrun Arghanj Khwa, located in the vicinity of the provincial capital of Faizabad, disrupting links with at least 10 other districts in the mountainous Afghan province near the border with Pakistan and China.Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said…

The Taliban first stormed all the security posts around the compound. The attack put the lives of some 600 members of the security forces deployed there at risk, he added. Jamshid Shahabhi, spokesman for the Badgis governor, said intense fighting was still underway on Thursday afternoon.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to the media.

The attack came as U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was heading to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials after visiting Kabul where he lobbied for “intra-Afghan dialogue” — talks that would encompass prominent Afghan figures, government representatives and the opposition, as well as the Taliban.

FILE -- Afghan men play cricket on a field covered in snow on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2017.
Afghan, Taliban Swap Kalashnikovs for Cricket Gear
During a lull in Afghanistan's never-ending war, before the fighting season resumes once again in the spring, Taliban fighters recall laying down their Kalashnikovs and, for a brief moment, enjoying a game of cricket.The sport is the only one most of the fighters enjoy, commanders say, with matches attracting hundreds of spectators from Taliban-controlled villages when there is no fighting.

Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban, most recently last month in Qatar where both sides said progress has been made.

But despite the talks, the Taliban still inflict staggering casualties on Afghan forces and now hold sway over half of the country. The insurgents refuse to talk directly with the government in Kabul, considering it a U.S. puppet.

In other developments Thursday, a bombing at a clinic in the city of Puli Khumri, the capital of northern Baghlan province, killed a doctor and wounded 18 civilians, according to Javed Basharat, spokesman for the province’s police chief. Two children and a woman were among the wounded.

Ghazni Afghanistan
Fighting Spikes Across Many Afghan Provinces
A mortar attack on a school Saturday in the volatile southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan killed at least four school students and injured more than a dozen. The assault comes on the heels of the Taliban capturing a strategically important northeastern district in Afghanistan and inflicting fresh casualties on government forces elsewhere in the country.A provincial government spokesman, Arif Noori, told VOA that two teachers also were among 15 other people injured in the incident.

And in eastern Nangarhar province, a sticky bomb attached to a mini bus wounded five people, said police official Zaman, who like many Afghans uses only one name. No militant groups immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Baghlan and Nangarhar.

In Kabul, the country’s intelligence agency — the National Directorate of Security — said its officers arrested at least six suspected members of the Islamic State group trying to recruit young Afghans for attacks through social media.

The statement also said the NDS arrested 10 members of IS with 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of explosives in eastern Nangarhar province.

Child Marriage