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News, June 2020
16 Taliban Fighters Killed in US Air Strikes, 21 Government Policemen and Militiamen Killed in Attacks
June 6, 2020
US airstrikes hit Taliban; 10 Afghan police killed in ambush
By TAMEEM AKHGAR, June 5, 2020
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) —
U.S. forces carried out two sets of airstrikes against the Taliban, in western and southern Afghanistan, a U.S. military spokesman said Friday. Elsewhere in the south, the Taliban set off a roadside bomb and ambushed a police convoy, killing 10 Afghan policemen.
The U.S. strikes against the Taliban were the first following a brief cease-fire declared by the insurgents for a major Muslim holiday last month.
A U.S. military spokesman, Col. Sonny Leggett, said one set of airstrikes took place on Friday afternoon in western Farah province, targeting 25 Taliban fighters who were attacking Afghan forces. Hours earlier, on Thursday night, the U.S. air forces struck an unknown number of Taliban in southern Kandahar province, he said. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.
Since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement at the end of February, U.S. forces have only once before announced a strike against the Taliban, in defense of Afghan forces. Leggett did not elaborate on the latest airstrikes or their targets.
However, an Afghan government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said three senior Taliban commanders and at least 13 other fighters were killed in the Farah airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials in southern Zabul province said the Taliban there ambushed an Afghan police convoy after setting off a roadside bomb on Friday, killing 10 policemen.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the explosion destroyed several police vehicles. A subsequent shootout also killed four Taliban fighters, he said.
The Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack. Since the cease-fire ended, the insurgents have claimed only one attack.
Bomb Blamed On Taliban Kills 11 Pro-govt Afghan Militiamen
AFP, Gandhara, June 6, 2020
The group was traveling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said.
A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told AFP.
Badakshan provincial council member Abduallah Naji said the Taliban were responsible for the incident but the militants have so far not claimed the attack.
Local militias often work with overstretched security forces in Afghanistan and have been regularly targeted by the Taliban.
The attack comes as overall violence has ebbed across much of Afghanistan following the Taliban's surprise three-day ceasefire against Afghan forces last month.
Officials have blamed some deadly attacks on the Taliban since the truce ended on May 26.
The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on cities since the deal, but have continued to target Afghan forces in the countryside.
U.S. Air Strikes Target Taliban In Afghanistan
June 05, 2020 19:31 GMT
The U.S. military says it has launched its first air strikes against the Taliban since a cease-fire declared by the militants and Afghan forces last month.
The two sets of air strikes took place on June 4-5 in two different Afghan provinces, military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said.
Elsewhere, 10 Afghan security forces members were reported killed on June 5 in an attack blamed on the Taliban.
The militant group announced a three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with Kabul saying it is ready to start long-delayed peace negotiations with the insurgents.
Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in February, in which it pledged to withdraw all U.S. troops in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for talks between warring Afghan sides.
Leggett said in a tweet that a U.S. air strike was carried out against 25 armed Taliban fighters “executing a coordinated attack” on an Afghan force checkpoint in the western province of Farah.
Another strike was conducted on an unknown number of Taliban fighters attacking a checkpoint in the southern Kandahar Province, the spokesman said.
“All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold,” he wrote in a separate tweet.
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.
In the southern province of Zabul, officials said the Taliban ambushed a police convoy after setting off a roadside bomb, killing 10 Afghan officers.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the blast destroyed several police vehicles.
A subsequent shoot-out also killed four Taliban fighters, Arian added.
The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan conducts airstrikes against Taliban attacking ANDSF checkpoint, first since Eid ceasefire
Military Times, June 5, 2020
Howard Altmanand Meghann Myers
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan conducted two airstrikes in 24 hours against the Taliban to disrupt coordinated attacks on ANDSF checkpoint, a spokesman said in a tweet.
They were the first airstrikes since the start of the Eid ceasefire, tweeted Army Col. Sonny Leggett, a USFOR-A spokesman.
“Overnight, USFOR-A conducted an airstrike against 25 armed TB fighters executing a coordinated attack on an #ANDSF checkpoint in Farah Prov,” Leggett tweeted. “This afternoon, USFOR-A conducted a strike on TB fighters attacking an ANDSF checkpoint in Kandahar Prov.”
In accordance with the U.S.-Taliban agreement “We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold. These were the 1st US airstrikes against TB since the start of the Eid ceasefire,” Leggett tweeted.
USFOR-A conducted 2 airstrikes on June 4 to disrupt coord. TB attacks on ANDSF checkpoints, IAW the US-TB agrmt. We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold. These were the 1st US airstrikes against TB since the start of the Eid ceasefire.
Officials from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command, Air Forces Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately comment.
The attacks come as the U.S. is working to pull troops out of Afghanistan.
Though the Pentagon is reportedly preparing an Afghanistan withdrawal scenario that would see more than 8,000 troops brought back stateside by early November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said May 27 that it’s only one option ― and not a particularly strong one.
The plan is still to bring troop levels down to 8,600 by July, Esper said, but any plan to pull out the remainder by the presidential election ― as cited in a Tuesday report by the New York Times ― does not seem likely at this point.
“It’s proven not to move as quickly as we’d prefer,” he said on a trip back from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, when asked if it could be done in six months. “I don’t put a timeline on it. We have a timeline of May of next year but that timeline was premised on everything moving at a set pace.”
Following a surge of troops on the ground following his inauguration, President Donald Trump has made the Afghan withdrawal a centerpiece of his foreign policy.
At the same time, peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have proceeded in fits and starts.
After a series of meetings in Qatar last year, Trump in September called off a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David, after they took responsibility for a Kabul suicide bombing that killed an 82nd Airborne Division soldier.
"Right now we’re encouraged by the steps we see happening in Afghanistan,' Esper said. “We’re seeing a greater exchange of prisoners. It looks like the Afghan government is organizing itself in a way to sometime soon begin inter-Afghan negotiations. That’ll be a good step forward.”
At the time, Esper said, American troops are trying to uphold their end of the deal, including taking a break from any offensive attacks on Taliban fighters, because “our ambition is not to be the cause for that agreement breaking down,” he said.
Afghan War Casualty Report: June 2020
At least 28 pro-government forces and 33 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month.
By Fahim Abed
New York Times, June 4, 2020
The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan for the past week. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The report includes government claims of insurgent casualty figures, but in most cases, these cannot be independently verified by The Times. Similarly, the reports do not include Taliban claims for their attacks on the government unless they can be verified. Both sides routinely inflate casualty totals for their opponents.
At least 28 pro-government forces and 33 civilians were killed in Afghanistan during the past week. The deadliest attack took place in Paktia Province, where the Taliban advanced on Afghan border force security outposts in Dandi Patan District, killing 14 soldiers and wounding three others. Local authorities claimed that more than 30 Taliban fighters were killed and dozens of others were wounded. In Kandahar Province, a civilian vehicle struck a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban in the Khushkroad area of Arghistan District, killing nine civilians and wounding five others.
June 4 Kabul Province: one civilian killed
A bomb detonated in a bazaar area in Qarabagh District, killing one civilian and wounding three others.
June 3 Badghis Province: one security force killed
A pro-government militia member was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the village of Chashma-e-Shirin in Qala-e-Naw City, the provincial capital.
June 3 Paktia Province: four police officers killed
The police chief of Said Karam District was killed along with three other police officers when a roadside bomb detonated in the Chino area of the district. The Taliban had already attacked security outposts in the area and the police chief was part of a group of reinforcements heading to the outpost. Four officers were also wounded in the explosion.
June 3 Kandahar Province: nine civilians killed
A civilian vehicle hit a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban in the Khushkroad area of Arghistan District, killing nine civilians and wounding five others.
June 2 Badghis Province: one security force killed
A female member of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban in the village of Rouji-ha in Ab-Kamari District.
June 2 Sar-i-Pul Province: three civilians killed
A Taliban roadside bomb hit a civilian vehicle in the Aqtash village of Sar-i-Pul, the provincial capital, killing three civilians, including women, and wounding four others.
June 2 Kabul Province: two civilians killed
A bomb detonated in the yard of Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque near the Green Zone area of Kabul, killing two people, including a well-known religious scholar named Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi. Two others were wounded in the explosion.
June 2 Uruzgan Province: two police officers killed
A Taliban infiltrator opened fire on his colleagues in a security outpost in the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the provincial capital, killing two police officers and wounding two others. The infiltrator escaped with light weaponry to join the Taliban.
June 1 Kunduz Province: seven civilians killed
A roadside bomb planted by the Taliban hit a rickshaw in the Jangal Bashi area of Khan Abad District, killing seven civilians and wounding six others.
June 1 Herat Province: one police officer killed
The Taliban attacked the governor’s office in Ghoryan District, killing one police officer during nearly an hour of fighting.
May 31 Nangarhar Province: three police officers killed
The Taliban attacked security outposts in Hesarak District, killing three local police officers. Local authorities claimed that 17 Taliban fighters were also killed.
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May 31 Herat Province: one police officer killed
The Taliban shot and killed one police officer and wounded two others in the fruit market of the bazaar in Ghoryan District. The attackers were on a motorcycle and managed to escape from the area.
May 31 Wardak Province: three civilians killed
A mortar shell hit a house in the Chaghra area of Nerkh District, killing three children and wounding three others. Afghan forces had been defuzing a mine in the area when the Taliban attacked, though it was unclear whether security forces or insurgents fired the mortar, and the Taliban attributed blame to the former. The Afghan government pledged financial assistance to the families of those killed and wounded and a government delegation was appointed to investigate the incident.
May 30 Badakhshan Province: two civilians killed
Two shepherds were killed when a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban detonated in front of a security outpost in the village of Shapo in Kohistan District.
May 30 Parwan Province: three civilians killed
A mortar fired by the Taliban intended for a security outpost hit a house in the Joy Dukhtar area of Seyah Gird District, killing three children.
May 29 Herat Province: one police officer killed
The Taliban attacked a police outpost in the village of Birjanak in Koshk-e-Robatsangi District, killing one police officer.
May 29 Kandahar Province: two civilians killed
A motorcycle laden with explosives was detonated near the Fifth Police District of Kandahar City, the provincial capital, killing two children and wounding five other civilians.
May 29 Paktia Province: 14 soldiers killed
The Taliban attacked Afghan border-force security outposts in Dandi Patan District, killing 14 soldiers and wounding three others. Local authorities claimed that more than 30 Taliban fighters were killed and dozens of others were wounded.
May 29 Ghor Province: one civilian killed
One child was killed and another was wounded in a bomb explosion in the village of Pozalich in Firoz Koh, the provincial capital.
Reporting was contributed by the following New York Times reporters: Najim Rahim from Kunduz, Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Zabihullah Ghazi from Jalalabad, Asadullah Timoory from Herat and Farooq Jan Mangal from Khost.
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