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Taliban kill 20 Afghan soldiers, capture 8 in Kunar



The Afghan Taliban killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and captured eight more after overrunning a military outpost in the Ghaziabad district in Kunar province today. The attack may have been aided by turncoat Afghan soldiers (that has not been confirmed). From Pajhwok Afghan News:

A group of Afghan and foreign insurgents mounted the attack on ANA's Sher Ghashi check-post in Tunk area. Governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala said 20 soldiers were killed and eight others kidnapped.

He added one of the missing soldiers had links with the Taliban. An investigation has been launched into the assault, the governor said, adding a cleanup operation was ongoing.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi confirmed the assault, saying two soldiers were injured in a fierce clash that lasted until 8:00am. Many Afghan and foreign rebels were killed in the battle and their bodies were still lying at the site.

Azimi said an ANA battalion was targeted by a suicide attacker on its way to the site. But nobody was hurt in the attack, he explained.

Recall the conventional wisdom in many circles that if the US would just withdraw from the remote provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, the insurgency would burn out, as the US presence was the driving force for local hostility? We do. It is now safe to say that the idea is bankrupt, though the LWJ disputed the notion back in 2010. For more on that subject, see the following reports:



READER COMMENTS: "Taliban kill 20 Afghan soldiers, capture 8 in Kunar"

Posted by Paul D at February 24, 2014 11:24 AM ET:

Every area by the pak border should be mined imho.

Posted by Jean at February 24, 2014 1:36 PM ET:

I think this occurred in Ghaziabad, this district has two to three passes that are connected to Pakistan. Also Ghaziabad sits on the Asadabad – Naray road. If you close the road, you deny access to eastern Nuristan and two provinces in Kunar. One of few COF COPs that was ever overrun happened in this area 2009-10, 3 ETTs killed.

Posted by sundoesntrise at February 25, 2014 3:17 PM ET:

Paul D,

In my opinion, that would not be a very good strategy. That area is infested with militants, they would see any attempt to mine the area from miles away and they would react to it in a very hostile manner. Also, the area is so unbelievably large and remote, that how would you realistically mine it? Would you mine the roads? Then you risk killing civilians, and the militants from what I've seen prefer not to use the main roads anyways. Mining the roads is the only semi-possible option, it is logistically and *literally* impossible to mine every square inch of land in that area.

With recent events in Syria and Pakistan, it seems the Jihadists themselves are fighting very aggressively with each other. The best game plan we can possibly have is to encourage the in-fighting, and make it completely possible for both sides to annihilate each other. That would work better than controversial drones, or massive troop deployments, ever could. These people disagree with each other so much they will tear each other limb from limb until the last man is standing.

Posted by jean at February 26, 2014 10:52 AM ET:

The Russians attempted to mine certain areas during the 1980’s including key terrain inside Afghanistan and connecting passes to Pakistan. The COF (now ISAF) spent millions to demine the country. Old soldiers will tell you that obstacles not covered by fire are a waste of time. Despite the demining efforts, the country is littered with mines. Russians Ops , their versions of COPs where defended by thousands of mines. There is a pass in northeast Nuristan that leads to Badakshan, it was featured in a NatGeo segment , both approaches where covered with mines, very sobering video.

Posted by wallbangr at February 27, 2014 3:53 PM ET:

For perhaps the first time, I find myself agreeing with @sundoesntrise that mining the area would be counterproductive. That said, I don't think enemy detection would be the biggest issue. In fact, the Russians dropped thousands of mines from aircraft, many of which are still in existence. So, in fact, I suspect it could be done without necessarily tipping off the enemy (or with dropping such a large number that they couldn't disarm them even if they wanted to as with cluster munitions), unlike going in and manually laying a minefield. But, again, it would be very counterproductive. Like the uninformed revenge fantasy one often hears about simply carpet-bombing the entire country, that ignores the practical and political considerations that have to be borne in mind. When we first invaded Afghanistan people were still ruing the scourge of mines that the country was dealing with from the Russian war more than a decade earlier. I recall a lot of one-legged children running around. Mines have a legitimate military purpose, but indiscriminately scattering them over an area that is (arguably) civilian is both collective punishment and likely against against international law. At a minimum, it would be the kind of actions we would condemn if anyone other an us did it, as we routinely have of the Russians for the mines that are still blowing up Afghan children. I think @sundoesnrise makes a good point about the infighting that is likely to ensue as we pull out, especially if we don't get an SOF agreement from Karzai. I myself would prefer that we don't simply walk away and let the whole mess crumble in on itself again like we did after the Russians pulled out. I fear history will simply repeat itself and, when we are forced to go back in, whoever is in charge will be even less trusting of our fair weather assistance than Karzai is. Leaving a trail of mines would certainly complicate any future necessity to carry out military action in the immediate area.

Posted by 5150 at March 2, 2014 3:16 AM ET:

The fact that we have to suggest using fragmentation mines to absolve the defensive responsibility of an armed forces which we trained, mentored, and supplied for an exhaustive and costly decade is nauseating.