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Taliban kill 30 Afghan soldiers and seize a military base

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) –┬áThe Taliban killed 30 security forces and seized a military base in the western province on Wednesday, the first major attack since a ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr, the provincial governor said.

The Taliban’s three-day ceasefire ended on Sunday.

Abdul Ghafur Malikzai, governor of the province, said the Taliban attacked two checkpoints in the early hours of the morning. Abdul Aziz Beck, head of the regional council in Badghis, said the Taliban had targeted a military base in Balmergab district.

“Large numbers of Taliban have poured in from several directions,” Beck said. “After hours of heavy fighting, 30 Afghan security forces were killed and the Taliban seized control of al Qaeda.”

Fifteen Taliban were killed in other areas of the province overnight. He said the militants had prepared their attacks and conducted reconnaissance in the area during the ceasefire.

The Taliban said heavy fighting was still going on and that “dozens” of soldiers had been killed so far.

A spokesman for Badghis police, Naqibullah Amini, confirmed the deaths of 30 soldiers and said the Taliban had killed four soldiers in separate attacks targeting security checkpoints in the same area.

The Afghan government has also called for a cease-fire during Eid al-Fitr, and Taliban fighters entered several cities across the country over the weekend to celebrate the holiday.

President Ghani Ghani extended for 10 days a unilateral truce that was due to expire on Wednesday.

Some criticized his declaration of a ceasefire, saying he had enabled Taliban fighters to enter freely into government-controlled areas, including the capital, Kabul.

“The consequences could be catastrophic,” said a senior Western diplomat in Kabul this week.

The Taliban are fighting US-led NATO forces as part of a firm support mission and US-backed government forces to enforce Islamic law after US-led forces ousted the movement in 2001.

British Lieutenant-General Richard Crepwell, deputy commander of the firm support mission, said he had not seen intelligence reports that the Taliban had used the ceasefire to explore targets in government-controlled areas.

“Frankly, the Taliban who entered Kabul on Saturday were more busy taking pictures, going to barbers, buying ice cream and such things,” Crepwell told reporters covering the Pentagon in Washington.