Taliban night vision attacks in Kandahar, Farah kill dozens
Taliban attacks on checkpoints in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Farah have left dozens of security personnel dead. The night-time assaults coincide with a survey showing Afghans deeply worried about their safety.
Night vision technology had likely been used by the Taliban in two Monday night attacks on Afghan checkpoints, said a spokesman for the western province of Farah.
Nine Afghan National Army soldiers were killed along with three civilians, said Farah governor spokesman Naser Mehri.
"There are signs the Taliban may have used night vision technology to approach and surprise our forces," said Mehri, adding that the attackers had "suffered casualties" as they were repelled.
Farah provincial council member Jamila Amini said fresh backup troops and air support enabled Afghan forces to retake one post held briefly by attackers.
Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar saw 15 attacks on security posts in areas bordering Helmand province, said Kandahar police spokesman Matiullah Hilal.
The Taliban had sent suicide bombers and used heavy weapons, leaving 22 police officers killed and 15 others wounded, said Hilal.
Afghan police personnel in Kandahar
He put Taliban losses at 45 militants killed and 35 others wounded.
Responsibility for the raids in both provinces was claimed by the Taliban via its spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi.
Intent to demoralize
Analysts say the frequent attacks in recent months have been intended to demoralize Afghan forces beset by casualties and desertions since NATO combat forces pulled out in late 2014.
The US congressional oversight agency Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says insurgent attacks became more complex this year, following Afghanistan's loss of 6,800 soldiers and police in 2016.
Only 60 percent of Afghanistan is under government control, according to SIGAR, which told also Congress that in the first four months of 2017 alone, 2,531 Afghan personnel were killed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Afghanistan last month, saying the US would continue to wage war against the Taliban, but that it was willing to work with moderates.
Widespread safety fears
Tillerson and Ghani at Bagram Air Field
The Asia Foundation survey published Tuesday showed that among 10,000 people sampled 70 percent feared for their personal safety.
Sixty percent believed their country was headed in the wrong direction. Another third rated the direction as positive - up slightly from last year.
Confidence in President Ashraf Ghani's NATO-backed government remained stable at around 50 percent.
In August, US President Donald Trump announced that American forces would stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.
ipj/rc (Reuters, dpa, Reuters)