In an ambush by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Takhar province on Tuesday, up to 47 members of security forces were killed while many others were wounded, according to Afghan officials.
The clash began with the Taliban launching an attack on security forced in Masjid-e-Safid village of Baharak district, according to officials. The Taliban are also said to have incurred casualties.
The Baharak district is one of 16 districts that make up the northern province of Takhar. Of these. At least 11 districts have been sites of Taliban control.
This is the second major attack by Taliban forces in Afghanistan this month, following a violent conflict in the southern Helmand province.
Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar, in speaking to AFP stated: “The Taliban had taken positions in the houses around the area. They ambushed our forces who were there for an operation against the enemy.”
“47 people (security forces members) were killed, and three or four others were wounded,” claimed Amir Muhammad Khaksar, an MP from Takhar, as reported by TOLO News. He also stated that casualty numbers are likely to rise.
The head of Takhar’s public health department, Abdul Qayoum Hairat, said that “at least 20 special forces” have been killed and “17 others are dead from among Takhar’s police forces.”
Among the casualties was Raz Mohammad Doorandish, the recently appointed deputy police chief of Takhar.
The Taliban have yet to comment on the incident.
The recent violence in Afghanistan is occurring in the backdrop of ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives which were initiated in Qatar last month.
On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in pre-ministerial press conference in Brussels, stated: “The Taliban must live up to their commitments, significantly reduce the levels of violence, and pave the way for a ceasefire.”
He asserted that while all NATO members support the US-Taliban agreement and ongoing peace talks in Doha, NATO’s support is strictly “conditions-based.”
Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO allies and partners recently renewed their commitment to provide financial support to Afghan forces “through 2024” yet maintained that the Taliban must abide by their commitments for any peaceful progress.
“The Taliban must break all ties with Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups,” he said, and emphasised upon the peace talks as Afghanistan’s “best possible chance” of bringing peace to the region.
“They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, including for women and girls. NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security,” he added.