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Taliban kills 30 policemen in Afghanistan's western province

Taliban militants and residents stand on an armoured Humvee in Kandahar [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 November, 2018

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Afghanistan is suffering from the highest level of casualties ever, as the militant Taliban steps up attacks to improve their negotiating position.

Recent major Taliban assaults in Afghanistan's western province of Farah have killed at least 30 Afghan security forces, officials said on Thursday.

The Taliban has stepped up attacks in strategic provinces as it seeks to expel foreign troops, topple the Western-backed Kabul administration and restore its rule.

The latest attack comes four days after the Taliban killed 50 police and soldiers at checkpoints in Farah city and nearby areas. 

"Unfortunately, many of our men have lost their lives in Farah," said Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry in Kabul, the capital.

Danish said more than 30 policemen had been killed since Wednesday and additional forces were being deployed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the clashes in Farah, which are widely seen as forming part of their strategy to step up battlefield pressure while seeking a political settlement with the United States.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the hardline militant group, said its fighters killed 35 security personnel, arrested two security officials, destroyed government vehicles and seized a large cache of weapons in Farah.

US commanders have said they expect the Taliban to step up military efforts to improve their position while they maintain contacts with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad aimed at opening peace negotiations.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born former US ambassador to Kabul, met President Ashraf Ghani and other officials at the weekend, in his latest round of meetings following an initial meeting last month with Taliban officials in Qatar.

Fighting in Farah highlights the pressure on Afghanistan's overstretched security forces, which are suffering from their highest level of casualties ever, estimates from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission show.

The government no longer releases precise casualty figures, but officials say at least 500 men are being killed every month and hundreds more wounded, a tally many consider an underestimate.

This year broadly has also proved to be the deadliest for Afghan civilians. Suicide bombs caused more than 2,300 civilian casualties so far, more than any other tactic, including ground fighting, according to a recent UN report.

The Taliban also now controls more territory than at any point since the US-led NATO war began in 2001. 

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