KABUL – At least 27 Taliban fighters have been killed in their attack on a government building in the province of Nangarhar, eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.
Two members of the security forces were also killed.
The attack began on Friday around 8:00 pm local time (1530 GMT) when suicide bombers detonated two trucks loaded with explosives against the administrative headquarters of Shirzad district and an adjacent security base, the provincial governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyanai told EFE.
“After the two truck bombs, their fighters started an armed attack against security forces, who were guarding the district compound. [As a] result of the fighting, 27 Taliban fighters were killed and another 32 were injured,” he added.
During the attack, which lasted several hours, two members of the security forces lost their lives and another eight were wounded, with two of them in critical condition, Khogyanai said.
The “Taliban were using nearby civilian houses as fighting positions and security forces were unable to use artillery and air strikes against them,” the spokesman added.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement in which he said that “tens of soldiers and police were killed and injured.”
The attack came a day after the Taliban announced its traditional spring offensive – an increase in operations with which they seek to increase their control in urban areas – and at the same time that the insurgents are trying to move forward in peace talks with the United States.
On Twitter, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, denounced the Taliban’s spring offensive announcement as “reckless.”
“Through this announcement, Taliban leaders demonstrate their indifference to the demands of Afghans across the country. The call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts. If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more casualties,” he said, adding that “a call for fighting suggests the Taliban are stuck in the ways of the past.”
It is expected that the Taliban, politicians and representatives of the Afghan government will be in Doha from April 19-21, in what would be the first meeting between representatives of the government and the insurgents since the US and the Taliban began peace talks last year.