14 Afghan security forces killed as violence grips country

Captured Taliban insurgents are presented to the media after being detained with car explosive devices in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, December 10, 2019. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 21 September 2020

14 Afghan security forces killed as violence grips country

  • Taliban fighters launched an overnight assault late Sunday on several Afghan security force positions in the southern province of Uruzgan
  • The battle comes as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting in Doha, where they are trying to find a way to end 19 years of war

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: At least 14 Afghan soldiers and police were killed during intense fighting with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, officials said Monday, as unabated violence gripped the country despite ongoing peace talks.
Taliban fighters launched an overnight assault late Sunday on several Afghan security force positions in the southern province of Uruzgan, inflicting a heavy toll that left Afghan troops vulnerable to being overrun.
The government-controlled district of Gizab also risked falling into insurgent hands, officials said.
“Intense fighting is ongoing. Our forces have retreated from several outposts,” Zelgai Ebadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP.
Officials said 14 Afghan security forces had been killed and more than a dozen more wounded.
“The fighting is now close to police headquarters. We need more reinforcements,” said Amir Mohammad Barekzai, head of the Uruzgan provincial council.
The battle comes as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting in Doha, where they are trying to find a way to end 19 years of war.
A hopeful start to the talks more than a week ago was immediately marred by fresh violence across Afghanistan, and negotiators have made little tangible progress.
On Saturday in the northeastern province of Kunduz, the Afghan air force conducted multiple strikes on Taliban positions that killed more than 30 insurgent fighters, military officials said.
However, local officials on Monday said the strikes killed at least 17 civilians.
Esmatullah Muradi, spokesman for the Kunduz provincial governor, said the civilians died as they gathered at the site of an initial strike against the Taliban.
“Based on our initial investigation, 17 civilians were also killed and 15 more injured in the second air strike,” Muradi told AFP, saying an “unknown number” of militants had been killed.
The defense ministry has not confirmed any civilian casualties and said it was investigating the case.
The interior ministry meanwhile said the Taliban had killed 98 civilians and wounded 230 more over the past two weeks in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, at least one person was killed and three more injured Monday in three separate explosions caused by so-called sticky bombs — homemade devices attached to vehicles with magnets that are regularly used to target security forces.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Speaking in Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani however appeared hopeful about peace talks.
“Peace is not possible without compromise,” he told a gathering to mark International Peace Day.
“Peace talks are like playing chess. Be patient,” he said.


Philippines evacuates nearly 1 million as Typhoon Goni nears

Updated 31 October 2020

Philippines evacuates nearly 1 million as Typhoon Goni nears

  • Typhoon Goni is expected to slam into Catanduanes Island Sunday morning with wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour
  • Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said “almost a million” people had left their homes in the Bicol region

LEGAZPI, Philippines: Nearly a million people in the Philippines were evacuated from their homes Saturday as the most powerful typhoon of the year so far barrelled toward the country, with authorities warning of “destructive” winds and flooding.
Typhoon Goni is expected to slam into Catanduanes Island Sunday morning with wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour) before crossing the main island of Luzon, the state weather forecaster said.
It comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago, killing 22 people and flooding low-lying villages and farmland, before crossing the South China Sea to Vietnam.
“It looks like we will have really strong winds, increasing the chances of widespread flooding and landslides,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told local broadcaster ABS-CBN.
“Storm surges are imminent on our east coast. We are monitoring Mayon and Taal volcanoes for possible volcanic mud flows.”
Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said “almost a million” people had left their homes in the Bicol region, which includes the southern part of Luzon and Catanduanes.
Authorities spent Saturday marshalling rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief goods ahead of the typhoon.
“Violent winds and intense rainfall” are expected that could trigger floods and landslides in an area of more than 20 million people, the weather service said.
There was a “high risk” of storm surges of more than three meters (10 feet) high along parts of the coast, it added.


Schools which have been empty since the start of the coronavirus pandemic are being used as emergency shelters as well as government-run evacuation centers and gymnasiums.
“Evacuating people is more difficult at this time because of Covid-19,” Bicol regional civil defense spokesman Alexis Naz told AFP.
Mary Ann Echague, 23, and her family fled their home in the coastal city of Legazpi in Bicol to an inland primary school where they were sheltering in a classroom with several other families.
“We fear the wrath of the typhoon,” said Echague, who was with her two children, parents and siblings. They had carried with them a portable stove, tinned meat, instant noodles, coffee, bread, blankets and pillows.
“Each time we’re hit by a typhoon our house gets damaged, since it’s made of wood and galvanized iron roofing,” she said.
“We have always managed. We find a way to get by.”
Hundreds of people have been left stranded after the coast guard ordered ferries and fishing boats into port in expectation of rough seas throwing up 15-meter waves.
Goni is expected to “weaken considerably” as it crosses Luzon and enters the South China Sea Monday morning, the state forecaster said.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.
Its deadliest on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which unleashed giant waves on the central city of Tacloban and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.