KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taleban insurgents targetted an Afghan army corps at their camp in southern Helmand province, killing at least 23, officials said yesterday.
Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said 16 other troops were wounded in the attack that began on Friday and continued yesterday in Wahser district.
Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taleban spokesman, said in a statement the insurgent group was responsible for the attack, which came even as Taleban negotiators met for talks with a United States (US) peace envoy in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar.
He said Taleban fighters engaged both Afghan and foreign forces inside the camp and killed “scores”.
Zwak said US advisers were present in the base, but in a separate area. “The foreign forces present at the base were all safe as the Taleban could not reach that part of the compound,” he said.
Zwak said the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at Shorab camp. He said three other suicide bombers also blew themselves up as gunmen followed behind them. Zwak said 16 Taleban gunmen were killed in the fighting.
In recent years, the Taleban and the Islamic State (IS) group have carried out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan, mainly targetting the government and its security forces.
The Taleban control several district centers in Helmand, which is a major source of the world’s illegal opium supply.
Camp Shorab was previously a British air base known as Camp Bastion.
In northern Sari Pul province, Taleban ambushed a convoy of Afghan security forces, killing nine, said Zabihullah Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Amani said 12 other forces were wounded during the battle with insurgents that lasted seven hours on Friday in Sangcharak district. “Four security forces are missing and believe to be taken alive by the insurgents,” he said.
The forces were just returning from an operation in the district when they came under heavy fire, Amani said.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taleban, claimed responsibility for the attack.