More than 25 Afghan soldiers and policemen were killed in a Taliban attack on an outpost in the southwestern Afghan province of Zabul. Taliban fighters coordinated with police sympathizers to execute the operation.
Provincial officials in Zabul said that the assault on a check post that was jointly manned by the Afghan army and police “involved policemen on the inside working with the attackers,” TOLONews reported.
The Taliban celebrated its operation in Zabul in a statement that was released on Voice of Jihad, its official website. According to the Taliban, “as many as 8 infiltrator Mujahideen opened fire on enemy troops inside the base … killing 22 puppets with corpses left behind, seizing an APC, 1 ranger pickup, 7 PKM machine guns, 5 RPG launchers, 22 rifles along with other equipment as well as freeing 2 prisoner Mujahideen.”
Insider strikes, or strikes where Afghan security personnel turn their weapons on their counterparts or Coalition troops, have bedeviled the Afghan security forces. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction reported there were “82 [insider] attacks that caused 257 casualties (172 deaths and 85 injuries)” within the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces during 2019.
The deadly offensive in Zabul takes place as U.S. military officials continue to ponder if the Taliban’s drumbeat of daily attacks is part of the group’s overall strategy or the efforts of a “splinter” cell.
Last week, during a congressional hearing, General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said that the military is “still assessing” whether “the Taliban attacks represent a core strategy of the group” or “is it a splinter of the group” executing the operations.
Meanwhile, the Taliban claims nearly 20 assaults per day on Voice of Jihad and has publicly stated that its military operations against the Afghan security forces would continue.