At least 10 soldiers killed, nine others wounded in late night attack on base in Kandahar
At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed when militants attacked their army base in Kandahar province, the defense ministry said on Tuesday, in the latest attack on Western-backed forces.
The assault in Shah Wali Kot district late Monday came just a day after 20 Afghan policemen were killed when Taliban fighters stormed their outposts in the neighboring province of Zabul. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the Kandahar attack. But Taliban insurgents are intensifying their annual spring offensive and their strength is growing, more than 15 years after they were toppled from power in a U.S.-led invasion.
“Last night the enemies of Afghanistan attacked Achakzai camp of army corps 205 in Shah Wali Kot district,” the defense ministry said in a statement. “Ten brave army soldiers were martyred and nine others wounded. The wounded soldiers were taken to hospital and they are in stable condition.”
The attack marks another setback for NATO-backed Afghan forces. It comes just a month after the Taliban killed at least 135 soldiers in the northern province of Balkh in the deadliest insurgent attack on an Afghan military base since 2001.
During the Zabul attack early Sunday, local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention because they were unable to contact senior authorities for help, highlighting the disarray in security ranks. Taliban militants launched their annual “spring offensive” in late April, heralding a surge in fighting as the U.S. tries to craft a new Afghan strategy and NATO considers sending more troops to break the stalemate against the resurgent militants.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month warned of “another tough year” for security forces in Afghanistan.
The White House is considering sending thousands more troops to break the deadlock. U.S. troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies. The foreign forces mainly serve in an advisory capacity. The troop strengths are a far cry from the U.S. presence of more than 100,000 six years ago.