Police say militants were retaliating against killing of 29 insurgents in attack on checkpoints in Kandahar.
Taliban insurgents have killed 23 civilians after they lost 29 of their fighters in an abortive attack on police in southern Afghanistan, police sources said on Friday.
“The Taliban insurgents have launched coordinated attacks on police checkpoints in Nesh district of Kandahar yesterday [Thursday], and they faced resistance from Afghan forces,” Kandahar police said in a press statement. “Following the Taliban attack, 29 Taliban fighters were killed and a number of others sustained injuries, and large numbers of weapons and ammunition were confiscated from them,” the statement added. “The brutal enemy after suffering defeat against Afghan forces, took their revenge by killing 23 civilians including five children and two women,” it said.
The police statement said the Taliban had sought refuge in the homes of civilians and killed them after they opposed the insurgents.
According to Nesh district police commander Niaz Mohammed the attacks occurred on Wednesday and Thursday. “After their defeat, the Taliban wanted to hide in the houses and when the civilians showed their opposition, the Taliban killed them,” he told AFP. “Six members of a policeman’s family were among the victims. In total 23 people [civilians] were killed.”
Contacted by AFP, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi rejected the claims as false. While Nesh district borders Uruzgan province, which is a major opium producer and has a high Taliban presence, its population is considered pro-government and Islamists insurgents rarely intervene there.
During the last Taliban offensive in October on Kunduz, the economic capital of northeast Afghanistan, civilians who had fled the fighting accused the insurgents of hiding in their houses or seeking to establish their positions there. As in Nesh, they told AFP that those who resisted were killed.
The security situation has eased on most fronts in recent weeks with the coming of winter after a particularly brutal fighting season in which nearly 2,600 civilians were killed and another 5,800 wounded in the first nine months of the year, according to the U.N. The Afghan military has also suffered at least 2,000 deaths since January, according to a security source, while a record half million people have been displaced by fighting.