The Taliban killed more than 20 soldiers during a nighttime raid on an Afghan military base in the western province in Farah. The Taliban overran the base and seized weapons and other military equipment. Security in Farah has deteriorated over the past several years and Afghan officials now say the provincial capital is again threatened by the Taliban.
The raid took place late last night in the district of Bala Baluk, which has a heavy Taliban presence. A member of the Farah provincial council said that the Taliban first launched an attack inside the provincial capital of Farah City, which tied up the attention of security forces. The Taliban then attacked the base in Bala Buluk and battled for three hours before overrunning it.
The number of casualties sustained by the Afghan National Army is somewhat in dispute. The Ministry of Defense said that 18 soldiers were killed and two more were wounded, while a member of the Farah provincial capital stated that 25 soldiers were killed and two more were captured by the Taliban. The Taliban also claimed it killed 25 Afghan soldiers and captured two others. Taliban casualties range between two and 12 fighters killed.
The Taliban claimed the attack on its official website, Voice of Jihad. According to the jihadist group, its fighters seized “a tank [likely an up-armored HUMVEE], an APC, 1 ranger pickup, 11 PKM machine guns, 12 rifles, 5 RPG launchers, 8 Kalashnikov [AK-47s], 1 sniper gun and other ammo” and torched the base and another “tank” after the operation. Afghan press reports indicate the Taliban looted the base and took all of the military equipment before abandoning it.
Last night’s attack was preceded by a series of smaller raids against police outposts in the province earlier this week. According to The New York Times, at least 20 policemen were killed as the Taliban attacked three police posts. The Taliban is said to have used Russia-made night vision devices to aid their attacks.
Security in Farah provinces has steadily deteriorated over the past two years. Farah City was one of five provinces that were under direct Taliban threat by the end of 2016. The Taliban remained on the outskirts of the city during 2017 and have continually harassed security forces throughout the province.
By mid-January 2018, Afghan officials have warned that the Taliban was no longer on the outskirts and has entered the city. The province’s deputy governor, Mohammad Younus Rasuli, criticized the security forces, which he said are taking heavy casualties.
“Currently security forces have not made any move to target the insurgents and our defensive status is also incorrect. In the last week only, over 50 security force members have been killed,” Rasuli, according to TOLONews.
At the end of January, Mohammad Aref Shah Jahan, the governor of Farah, quit, “because of the worsening security situation in Farah.” He partially blamed this on “interference in my responsibilities from various individuals”.
Farah: 25 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attack, Pajhwok Afghan News
Over 25 killed, 2 detained as key base overrun in Farah, Voice of Jihad
Using Night-Vision Goggles, Taliban Stage Lethal Attack, The New York Times