Thursday , November 23 2017

Fence will reduce attacks: Pakistan – 43 Afghan troops killed

Pakistani policemen and officials pray in front of the coffins of policemen who were killed in a suicide blast during a funeral in Quetta on Oct 18. (AFP)

KABUL, Oct 19, (Agencies): The Afghan Taleban stormed a military base in the south of the country killing at least 43 troops on Thursday, the Defence 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 Taleban were also reported killed in the battle, which occurred in Maiwand, a district that neighbours 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 American-made Humvee armoured vehicle, likely captured from Afghan security forces, into the gate of the base, an army official told Reuters.

That began an hours-long assault by Taleban gunmen, which was interrupted by a second Humvee breaking all the way into the base and detonating inside, he said. The base itself was left in ruins, officials said. Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the militant group, said the attack began with a suicide car bomb followed by an assault that overran the base. The militants had killed at least 60 Afghan soldiers and wounded many, he said.

The militant commander accused of masterminding Pakistan’s deadliest ever extremist attack, a massacre at a school in Peshawar in 2014, has been killed, the Pakistani Taleban said in an email to media Wednesday. The message from the Tehreek-e- Taleban Pakistan (TTP), the umbrella group which forms the Pakistani Taleban, did not say when or where Khalifa Umar Mansoor had been killed, and there was no immediate comment from the Pakistani military or government. The Mansour-led faction of the TTP, the Tariq Gidar Group (TGG), had claimed responsibility for the attack on the school in Peshawar, in which more than 150 people were killed, most of them children.

Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that new fencing and guard posts along the border with Afghanistan would help prevent militant attacks in both countries, but the stepped-up fortifications have angered Kabul, which does not recognize the frontier as an international border. Maj Gen Nauman Zakaria, the commander for the South Waziristan tribal region, told reporters during a visit to the border that after the fencing is complete, no “terrorist” will be able to use Afghan or Pakistani soil to launch cross-border attacks. Pakistan began construction of the fencing in June. Standing at a post overlooking Afghan villages across the border, Zakaria said troops and paramilitary forces had defeated militants by launching several operations in the troubled region, which was a longtime stronghold for al-Qaeda and the Taleban, as well as criminal gangs. President Donald Trump has reiterated longstanding US accusations that Pakistan turns a blind eye to militant groups that launch attacks in Afghanistan from within its territory , allegations denied by Islamabad.

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