Afghan Forces Repulse Taliban Attack on Oil Fields

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2019-01-01

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ISLAMABAD —The Taliban has killed more than 20 pro-government forces and captured several security outposts in northern Afghanistan.

The insurgents staged the deadly offensive to try to take control of oil fields in Sayyad district in Sar-e-Pol province, a local government spokesman told VOA Tuesday.

Zabihullah Amani said that Afghan security forces, including police and intelligence operatives, deployed to the facility on the outskirts of the provincial capital, also called Sar-e-Pol, repulsed Monday night's attack by the Taliban.

Amani added that at least 23 Afghan forces were also wounded in several hours of fierce clashes. Senior police commanders and officers of the intelligence agency were said to be among the dead.

A Taliban spokesman claimed government forces lost more than 50 personnel and insurgents overran three security posts in the area. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claims made by either side and insurgent battlefield details are often inflated.

Insurgents also attacked the Chimtal district in the province late Monday where Afghan officials said fierce battles raged into the next day, but gave not details of casualties.

The Taliban has inflicted heavy casualties on embattled Afghan military and police forces during 2018 and captured more territory in the process.

An insurgent report issued Monday claimed that the Taliban has brought 61 out of Afghanistan's 407 districts under its control in the previous year. The Afghan government has not offered any reaction to the militant claims

The United States has recently stepped up diplomatic efforts to seek a political resolution to the Afghan war and held several rounds of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Officials say the interaction is meant to persuade the Taliban to join a peace process with the Afghan government. But the insurgent group refuses to hold any intra-Afghan dialogue until the U.S. agrees on a date or timeline for pulling out all foreign forces from Afghanistan.