Attack on Afghan checkpoint kills 10 security forces

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 15, 2018

At least six Afghan border policemen were killed in a vehicle explosion in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Wednesday, local officials confirmed.

Provincial council head Farid Ahmad Bakhtawar said that at least 15 Taliban insurgents were also killed in the attack in the outskirts of the western province's capital, also named Farah.

Afghan security force members inspect the site of attack in Nad Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 14, 2018.

Abdul Samad Salehi, a member of the Farah provincial council, said four of those killed in today's attack were from the intelligence service and six were police.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a suicide truck bomb struck a checkpoint in the southern Helmand province, killing at least two border police, according to General Abdul Ghafar Safi, the police chief of the province, which borders Pakistan.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Roland Kobia said the European Union was not in contact with the Taliban and urged those countries that were, including China, to talk to certain Taliban groups and mediate in the conflict, Efe reported.

But US officials including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this week that some Taliban elements are open to talking with the Afghan government. He said another three police were wounded in the blast.

The European Union's Special Envoy to Afghanistan on Wednesday hoped that "key player" China would mediate with the Taliban for acceptance of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's offer for unconditional peace talks.

Earlier, officials said that Kabul was deploying more troops to Farah to counter the frequent Taliban attacks and protect a planned multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

But the Taliban has so far ruled out direct talks with Kabul and insisted it would only negotiate with the United States, which it calls a "foreign occupying force".

Asked whether the United States would be willing to talk directly with the Taliban, Mattis reiterated the US position that the talks should be led by Kabul.

The defense secretary said he is focused on peace and reconciliation, something that could be mutual as reaching a settlement was "picked up from the Taliban side" even before Ghani's invitation for peace talks.

Casualties of the Afghan security forces have risen since the beginning of 2015 when Afghan soldiers and police assumed full responsibilities of security from the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

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