While the focus on the fighting in Afghanistan has been centered on the Taliban’s offensive in Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, the Taliban has meanwhile launched major attacks elsewhere in the country.
The Taliban killed 47 policemen last night, including the province’s deputy police chief, in the northern province of Takhar.
The Taliban assaulted security installations in Takhar’s Baharak district, which is just miles from provincial capital Taloqan, Afghan officials said. However, Taliban spokesman Zabihuallh Mujahid claimed that the group attacked security forces as they were conducting operations in the district.
Raz Mohammad Doorandish, Takhar’s deputy chief of police, was among the 47 Afghan security personnel killed, according to a member of parliament from the province, TOLONews reported. At least “20 special forces” – likely provincial special police units – and 17 rank and file policemen were among those killed, the head of Takhar’s public health department told the Afghan news agency.
At least 22 Taliban fighters were killed during the clashes, according to Bakhtar News. The Taliban has not announced its casualties, which is typical.
The Afghan troops in Baharak “called several times for support but did not receive any,” a surviving member of the security team told TOLONews.
Baharak is one of four of Takhar’s 17 districts that has been assessed by FDD’s Long War Journal as being under Taliban control. Six more districts are assessed as contested. The Taliban overran Baharak in Oct. 2019, and is thought to be in control of most major areas of the district. The Taliban’s ability to simply rout an Afghan force as it did last night is further evidence of its grip on the district.
Fighting fires that rage throughout the country
The Taliban has been on the offensive all over Afghanistan. Over the past several days, the Taliban has:
- Killed 8 security personnel while overrunning a checkpoint in Iman Sahib district in Kunduz;
- Killed 16 people and wounded more than 150 in a suicide attack in Ghor’s provincial capital of Firozkoh;
- Assassinated the governor of Khost’s Zazai Maidan district in an ambush in Logar, in eastern Khost;
- Killed 12 policemen in an IED ambush in Nimroz;
- and killed 5 civilians in a bombing in Wardak.
Scary enough, the Taliban has also claimed many more attacks on its official website, Voice of Jihad.
In Badakhshan province, the Taliban has been very active in destabilizing the security situation. Provincial officials told TOLONews that the Taliban is threatening the security in 22 of the province’s 29 districts. This closely tracks with FDD’s Long War Journal‘s assessment of the situation in Badakhshan; we count two districts as Taliban controlled and 19 more contested.
According to the governor, more than 400 foreign fighters are present there, and the Taliban is on the doorstep of Faizabad, the provincial capital.
In Helmand’s provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and in three neighboring districts, the fighting has halted since the U.S. brokered a ceasefire. The Taliban, which launched its assault on Lashkar Gah some 10 days ago, kept its grip on territory it seized in the fighting – in exchange for a halt in U.S. airstrikes. Jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda, which remains an ally of the Taliban, plus Laskhar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammad are fighting alongside the Taliban in Lashkar Gah, according to Helmand’s governor.
Reports from Helmand paint a disturbing picture for the uncertain future of the Afghan government and security forces. More than 35,000 families fled the violence in Helmand, many to temporary camps in Kabul, according to Foreign Policy. Civilians fleeing the violence reported that the roads to the neighboring province of Kandahar are seeded with Taliban roadside bombs and gunfights between the Taliban and Afghan forces are constant in the area.