At Least 30 Afghan Soldiers, Police Killed In Taliban Attacks

Taliban attacks on several military facilities in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan have killed at least 30 soldiers and police officers, provincial officials say.

Mohammad Safdar Mohseni, head of provincial council, on August 15 said the militants set fire to two adjacent checkpoints following an overnight attack in the Baghlan-e Markazi district.

Two other council members, Hayatullah Wafa and Asadullah Shabaz, said Taliban fighters had stormed at least one military base and three checkpoints.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault, the latest in a series of attacks that have killed dozens of members of the Afghan security forces across Afghanistan in recent days.

Afghanistan's Western-backed government has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

In the southern province of Zabul, provincial police chief Mustafa Mayar said Taliban fighters attacked several security posts early on August 15, killing four police officers and wounding three others.

Mayar said the Taliban used artillery and heavy guns during their attacks in the provincial capital, Qalat. He said seven Taliban fighters were killed and five were wounded.

Meanwhile, residents in the city of Ghazni have begun returning to the streets and some shops have reopened after five days of fighting between Taliban militants and government forces.

Arif Noori, spokesman for Ghazni's provincial governor, said that "life is getting back to normal." But he said people wounded in the battle were still arriving on August 15 at the city's hospital, which has been overwhelmed by casualties.

The battle began early on August 10 when the Taliban launched an assault and captured several neighborhoods of Ghazni, a strategic city located on the main highway linking Kabul with the southern city of Kandahar.

Afghan forces backed by air support struggled to push back the militants, who had fortified themselves in residential areas.

An unidentified Taliban commander was quoted as saying that the militants decided to pull out of Ghazni to prevent further destruction to the city of 270,000 people.

But an AFP reporter saw Taliban forces in at least one village on Ghazni’s outskirts, and residents cited security forces as warning that the militants remained nearby.

Hundreds of people have fled the fighting. About 100 members of the Afghan security forces and at least 20 civilians were killed.

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that up to 150 civilians have reportedly been killed or injured in the battle for Ghazni, but said the number of civilian casualties still needed to be verified.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was providing equipment and medicine to treat the wounded at the provincial hospital.

The organization is also organizing emergency water supplies to cover the needs of about 18,000 people, as the city water system was shut down when the fighting began.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters