Ayaz Gul - VOA News
A district police chief was among dozens of security forces killed in Afghanistan in overnight attacks by the Taliban, officials said Sunday.
The insurgent raids occurred in the central eastern Maidan Wardak, western Herat and northern Baghlan provinces, the officials said.
A provincial government spokesman in Maidan Wardak told VOA Taliban fighters stormed the Day Mirdad district center late Saturday, killing its police chief, Said Younus Hussaini, and 10 other security personnel.
Abdul Rahman Mangal dismissed reports, however, that Day Mirdad was on the verge of collapse, saying reinforcements have arrived in the district and a counteroffensive was underway to retake the lost territory in Day Mirdad.
Separately, reports said a coordinated Taliban attack against army and police posts in a troubled district of Baghlan has killed at least 20 Afghan security forces.
Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster, TOLOnews, said insurgents also overran all the outposts and surrounding villages in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district.
Afghan authorities have not commented on the fighting in Baghlan. The Taliban issued a statement, claiming it killed 60 government forces and seized a large quantity of weaponry placed there. The insurgent group often issues inflated battlefield gains.
Meanwhile, officials in Herat confirmed a late-night Taliban raid against a security checkpoint in the province killed nine Afghan forces and wounded six others. A provincial government spokesman said 10 assailants were also killed in the ensuing gunbattle.
U.S.-trained Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have struggled to contain the Taliban and suffered heavy losses in the process during fighting season. The insurgent group is said to be controlling or hotly contesting about 50 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts.
Islamic State militants have also increased attacks, particularly against members if the Afghan Shiite community, adding to the challenges of the beleaguered government forces.
In Kabul, hundreds of armed men took to the streets Sunday as part of annual celebrations in honor of the slain Afghan politcal and military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. The crowd blocked traffic on already congested streets in the Afghan capital and shots into the air, wounding at least 13 civilians, residents and health officials confirmed.
Massoud was assassinated by al-Qaida suicide bombers disguised as journalists on September 9, 2001. The Afghan government has imposed a ban on carrying arms during the annual celebrations but Massoud's supporters rarely respect the restriction.
Police say during Sunday's celebrations a suicide bomber on motorbike detonated his explosives near a rally in the city, killing at least seven people and wounding more than a dozen others.