[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Taliban launches major Afghan offensive

Some 700 Taliban rebels battle Afghan forces near Kabul as military's capacity to deal with security is tested.

Last updated: 19 Aug 2014 14:05
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A Taliban spokesman said its forces were battling Afghan troops 'from all sides' [AFP]

Hundreds of Taliban fighters are battling Afghan security forces in Logar, a key province near the capital Kabul, local officials say.

Rebels have this summer mounted increasingly intense assaults across several provinces, involving hundreds of fighters, as the country braces for the withdrawal of foreign combat troops after 13 years.

"There are some 700 of them and they are fighting Afghan forces for territorial control," Niaz Mohammad Amiri, the provincial governor of Logar province, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. 

The Taliban have dug in at Logar, about an hour's drive south of the capital, and nearby Wardak province to the west, in recent years. 

They have used the provinces - gateways to the capital - as launchpads for hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings in Kabul. 

We have already taken over many security outposts and killed many Afghan forces.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.

The main roads into the capital are all tightly controlled, but the rebels have been able to breach the checkpoints and staged dozens of attacks, killing scores of civilians and soldiers in the city of about five million this year. 

Abdul Hakim Esaaqzai, the police chief of Logar province, said the rebels, armed with heavy machine guns, were fighting Afghan forces from residential areas in Charkh district. 

"We are being extra careful not to cause any civilian casualties. We have enough forces to deal with it," Esaaqzai said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the rebels were battling Afghan forces from all sides to overrun the district.

"The area is under siege and we have already taken over many security outposts and killed many Afghan forces," he said.

Meanwhile, provincial government spokesperson Den Mohammad Darwish told Al Jazeera that more than 100 Taliban fighters launched an attack in Narkh district this morning. 

"The fighting has since stopped," he said."Five army men and three police are wounded. Many Taliban have been killed. We don't know exactly how many. Their bodies are still lying on the ground outside."

Foreign troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan later this year. Afghanistan's security arrangements beyond 2014 are unclear, as Kabul and Washington have yet to sign a bilateral security agreement designed to keep a small force of American soldiers in Afghanistan next year and into 2016. 

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign the agreement, although the two men vying to replace him have vowed to implement it immediately upon taking office. 

Four months after going to the polls, a winner in the presidential poll is still not clear. On Tuesday, Karzai appealed for the two candidates to end their dispute over election results and save the country from further violence and economic decline.

468

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
Whatever the referendum's outcome, energy created by the grassroots independence campaign has changed Scottish politics.
Traders and farmers struggle to cope as restrictions on travel prevent them from doing business and attending to crops.
Unique mobile messaging service, mMitra, helps poor pregnant women in Mumbai fight against maternal mortality.
Influential independence figure has been key in promoting Scottish nationalism, but will his efforts succeed?
join our mailing list