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43 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban assault

China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-20 07:42

KABUL - The Afghan Taliban stormed a military base in the south of the country on Thursday, killing at least 43 soldiers, the Defense Ministry said, with the militants saying they had killed 60.

Of 60 soldiers manning the base in the province of Kandahar, 43 were killed, nine were wounded and six were missing after the militants attacked in the middle of the night, the ministry said in a statement.

At least 10 Taliban were also reported killed in the battle, which occurred in Maiwand, a district that neighbors volatile Helmand province.

The attack will underscore worries about the ability of the Afghan security forces to deal with a relentless insurgency which they have struggled to contain since most foreign troops left at the end of 2014.

US President Donald Trump committed to an open-ended military mission in Afghanistan in August despite criticism that it is no closer to peace despite billions of dollars in aid and nearly 16 years of US and allied operations.

The attack began when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden US-made Humvee armored vehicle, likely captured from Afghan security forces, into the gate of the base, an army official said.

That began an hourslong assault by Taliban gunmen, which was interrupted by a second Humvee breaking all the way into the base and detonating inside, he said.

"Unfortunately there is nothing left inside the camp. They have burned down everything they found inside," Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the attack began with a suicide car bomb followed by an assault that overran the base.

The Taliban have been waging an insurgency in an attempt to overthrow the government in Kabul.

The United States and its allies maintain thousands of troops across Afghanistan, including in Kandahar, to advise and assist Afghan forces as well as conduct strikes against suspected extremists.

On Tuesday, at least 71 people were killed and about 170 wounded in Taliban attacks on government compounds in Paktia and Ghazni provinces.

Among the dead were 36 members of the security forces.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday that China strongly condemned Tuesday's attacks.

"China was shocked at the heavy casualties, extended condolences to those killed and conveyed sincere sympathy to the injured and families of victims," he said.

Lu said that China was concerned about the escalation of violence and called on related parties to participate in the reconciliation process to safeguard the country's peace and development.

Reuters - Xinhua - Afp

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