Taliban overruns Afghan district, kills governor

The Taliban overran the district of Khwaja Omari and killed at least eight people, including the district governor, earlier today. Seven policemen were also killed in the attack. Khwaja Omari was considered to have been one of the more secure districts in Ghazni province.

The attack and death of Ali Shams Dost, the district governor, and seven policemen was confirmed by the Ghazni provincial police, according to TOLONews. Nine other policemen were wounded during the fighting.

A statement released by the provincial police force said the Taliban launched the raid at 2:00 AM local time. The Taliban routinely launches strikes on district centers and military bases at night. Videos documenting the attacks often show Taliban fighters using night vision devices.

The Taliban torched the governor’s compound before withdrawing its forces. The police claimed that 27 Taliban fighters were killed in retaliatory airstrikes.

The district of Khwaja Omari was previously considered to be one of the more secure areas in Ghazni, which is a hotbed for the Taliban and other foreign jihadist groups such as al Qaeda. Resolute Support listed Khwaja Omari as “Government Influenced,” according to a report issued by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. A government influenced district means that the government holds sway and the Taliban presence is minimal.

The fact that the Taliban was able to easily overrun the Khwaja Omari district center indicates that the Taliban presence in the district is far greater than assessed by Resolute Support. FDD’s Long War Journal now assesses the district to be contested.

The security situation in Afghanistan has progressively declined since the US withdrew the bulk of its forces by 2014 and handed over security to Afghan forces. LWJ has assessed that 46 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts are controlled (38 districts) or contested (151 districts). [See LWJ report, Mapping Taliban Control in Afghanistan.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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