13 Afghan soldiers slain in Taliban attack
An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 336th Fighter Squadron, also known as the Rocketeers, from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker while flying over Afghanistan in this handout photo taken March 29, 2011. As a result of sequestration cutbacks, Air Combat Command has directed the 4th Fighter Wing to stand down the 336th Fighter Squadron, the Air Force announced April 12 in a news release. This decision to stand down or curtail operations affects about one-third of the active-duty Combat Air Forces squadrons, the news release said. REUTERS/Master Sgt William Greer/US Air Force/Handout (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Photo by REUTERS
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban militants stormed an Afghan army outpost on Friday, killing more than a dozen soldiers in an area that is a major infiltration route for insurgents crossing the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Taliban are stepping up their attacks this spring, analysts say, as they try to position themselves for power ahead of national elections and the planned withdrawal of most U.S. and other foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
“The Taliban want to show the international community that they are the power in Afghanistan,” said Jawed Kohistani, an Afghan political and military analyst. “Relations between the Afghan government and the international community are not so good, which is good for the Taliban.”
The attack on the outpost began at dawn in Nari district of Kunar province, a volatile area that serves as a pathway for insurgents traveling to Afghanistan from their sanctuaries in northwestern Pakistan.
The militants started by firing 20 rockets at the outpost, which housed about 30 soldiers, provincial police chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhaili said. He said three Afghan soldiers and four Taliban fighters were killed. But Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi told The Associated Press that 13 soldiers were killed in the fighting, which lasted about five hours.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the insurgents captured the base, seizing ammunition and weapons. He said 15 Afghan soldiers died in the attack and the militant fighters suffered no casualties. The militant movement frequently exaggerates the number of people killed and wounded in its attacks.
This year's fighting season is being closely watched because Afghan forces have to operate with less support from the international military coalition, making it a test case of their ability to operate independently as U.S. and other foreign troops take on more of an advisory and training role.
Afghanistan has about 100,000 international troops, including 66,000 from the United States. The United States' troop total is scheduled to drop to about 32,000 by early next year. The bulk of the reduction will occur once fighting presumably winds down in the winter.
Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, said the coalition had no involvement in Friday's fighting and has little presence in the area where the attack occurred.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.