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Top Story

November 6, 2018
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Taliban kill 13, capture important Ghazni post

Top Story

November 6, 2018

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GHAZNI, Afghanistan: Taliban militants captured an important security post outside the central Afghan city of Ghazni on Monday, killing 13 members of government forces and underscoring their vulnerability even in areas where defences have been bolstered.

The post was part of a belt of strongholds built around Ghazni, which is on the main road between the capital, Kabul, and the Afghan south, after the city was briefly overrun by Taliban in August in one of their biggest offensives in years.

As well as the 13 killed, 13 members of the Western-backed government’s security forces were wounded in the attack, said Arif Noori, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He said the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties but he had no exact information. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a statement 18 policemen were killed and six wounded and large quantities of weapons and ammunition were seized.

The government had control or influence over 65 percent of the population but only 55.5 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts, the agency, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said in a report.

Meanwhile, the Taliban is demanding the body of an assassin who shot dead a powerful Afghan police chief, in return for the remains of 13 people killed in an army helicopter crash in territory controlled by the militants.

The tribal elders in the restive western province of Farah bordering Iran are handling negotiations for the exchange of bodies for nearly a week. So far only 12 bodies of the 25 people killed in the helicopter accident in Taliban-controlled Anar Dara district on October 31 have been given to Afghan authorities. Officials blamed bad weather for the crash, but the Taliban claimed its fighters brought down the aircraft. "We want to hand over the bodies from the helicopter crash to their respective families via the International Committee for the Red Cross, but on condition that the enemy hand over the body of martyred fighter Zabihullah Abu Dajana, who killed Commander Abdul Raziq, to his family," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in WhatsApp message.

Among the bodies returned were those of provincial councillor Jamila Amini, civilians and businessmen, Farah governor spokesman Nasir Mehri told AFP. "No military officials have been recovered yet," Mehri said. The bodies still in Taliban hands include those of the deputy army corps commander for western Afghanistan and the head of the Farah provincial council.

Such horse-trading of bodies between the Taliban and tribal elders acting on behalf of the Afghan government is not unusual. But the remains of the gunman who killed General Abdul Raziq, a renowned anti-Taliban strongman credited with keeping a lid on the insurgency in the south, has particularly high propaganda value for the militant group.

Raziq was among three people killed when the shooter wearing an Afghan security forces uniform opened fire on a high-level security meeting in Kandahar city on October 18. General Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, was standing near Raziq and narrowly escaped unhurt. Since the attack, the killer’s body is kept in the morgue of Mirawais hospital in the provincial capital, a Kandahar health official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

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