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Officials: Taliban Kill 15 in Attack on Afghan Security Checkpoint

Officials: Taliban Kill 15 in Attack on Afghan Security Checkpoint

Tuesday, 24 December, 2019 - 09:30
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, center, walks Gen. Scott Miller, right, chief of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, at the US military headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. - (AP Photo/Lolita C. Balbor)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Taliban militants ambushed a government checkpoint in Balkh province in Afghanistan's north, killing at least 15 members of the security forces, local officials said on Tuesday, the latest in an escalating series of

insurgent attacks.

More than 18 years after US-led forces toppled the hardline Taliban regime, Afghan forces are suffering record casualties with Afghan and US officials warning that the toll is not sustainable.

Despite a winter lull in fighting due to heavy snowfall in the mountains where the Taliban typically rest and regroup ahead of their annual spring offensive, assaults on vulnerable security checkpoints continue across the country, Reuters reported.

Mohammad Yousuf, the district governor of "Dawlat Abad" where the incident took place said, said dozens of Taliban insurgents targeted a checkpoint manned jointly by Afghan soldiers and intelligence agents, killing 15.

An Afghan Defence Ministry statement said seven soldiers had been killed. The ministry tends not to provide exact figures on its casualties sustained in fighting with the Taliban.

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and overthrow the Western-backed Kabul government, claimed responsibility and said at least 20 members of the security forces were killed, six wounded and four captured.

According to Reuters, the Taliban often inflates casualty figure they inflict on Afghan government forces.

As Afghan security force casualties mounted this year, the government pulled back from hundreds of checkpoints in isolated areas that acted as a magnet for Taliban attacks.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, members of the security forces and 2,400 US military personnel have been killed in fighting since 2001.

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