The Taliban attacked a military base in southern Afghanistan early on Tuesday, killing 24 Afghan National Army soldiers, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. The attack, which occurred at around 5:45 a.m. local time, involved approximately 30 insurgents and also involved the abduction of an Afghan soldier. The attackers managed to breach several military bunkers and conduct a pre-dawn attack before meeting a swift defeat. Three Afghan soldiers are reported to have died during the assault. No foreign troops were reportedly injured.

A Ministry of Defense statement described the attack as an “unauthorized diversion of troops.” Afghanistan’s chief of general staff, Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, did say that as many as 10 insurgents had been killed in the attack.

After months of varying success against the Taliban — who are known to have greater numbers of gunmen — the Afghan Army has recently sought to press its advantage, and many in the capital city of Kabul are optimistic about the prospects of victory. On Saturday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported a sharp decline in casualties among the nation’s security forces last year, and in particular, the Afghan National Police, who are expected to number more than 280,000 this year, according to a Taliban estimate.

“It’s not 100 percent safe,” Sergeant Kamyar Mansoor, a 30-year-old soldier from the 215th Corps, said in an interview with The New York Times. “But compared to a year ago, we have a good chance, and with coalition airstrikes, we will have a better chance.” He continued: “If we are able to beat them in Helmand, then we will give them a good lesson.”

However, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged the drop in casualties and blamed it on last year’s American troop withdrawal. “The Taliban control or contest some territories in Afghanistan and our fighters have endured a lot of casualty,” Mujahid told The Times. “However, it does not represent us winning the war. When American troops left most of the combat, it led to a change in the counterinsurgency efforts by Afghan forces.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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