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Taliban kill 30 Afghan soldiers and take base in first major attack since ceasefire

Reuters , Wednesday 20 Jun 2018
Taliban
In this photo taken on June 17, 2018, Afghan Taliban militants and residents stand on a armoured Humvee vehicle of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as they celebrate ceasefire on the third day of Eid in Maiwand district of Kandahar province. (AFP photo)
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Taliban militants killed 30 Afghan soldiers and captured a military base in the western province of Badghis on Wednesday, the provincial governor said, their first major attack since a ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The three-day Taliban ceasefire ended on Sunday.

Provincial governor Abdul Qafoor Malikzai said the Taliban attacked two security posts in the early hours. Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council, said one military base was targeted, in the district of Balamerghab.

"Large numbers of Taliban came from several directions," Bek said. "After hours of heavy fighting 30 Afghan security forces were killed and the Taliban captured the base."

Fifteen Taliban were killed in other areas of the province overnight, he said, adding that the militants prepared their attacks and did reconnaissance of the area during their ceasefire.

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the attacks.

Naqibullah Amini, spokesman for the Badghis police, confirmed the death of 30 soldiers and said the Taliban killed four soldiers in separate attacks on security checkpoints in the same district.

The government also called a ceasefire for the holiday and Taliban fighters headed into cities across the country over the weekend as both sides celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

President Ashraf Ghani extended his unilateral ceasefire, initially due to end on Wednesday, by 10 days.

Some have criticised his ceasefire, which allowed the Taliban to freely enter government-held areas, including the capital, Kabul.

"The consequences could be disastrous," a senior Western diplomat in Kabul said this week.

The Taliban are fighting to oust U.S.-led NATO forces combined and defeat Ghani's U.S.-backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

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