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article imageTaliban kill 13 members of crack Afghan unit and burn outpost

By Ken Hanly     Apr 12, 2013 in World
Kabul - One of the most highly regarded units in the Afghan military suffered 13 killed as Taliban fighters attacked their remote outpost in Kunar province.
Every soldier manning the unit was killed in the attack in a mountainous area of the border province. Reports put the number of Taliban involved in the attack at around 200. They set the outpost on fire before retreating as reinforcements arrived.
Casualties among Afghan soldiers and police officers are twice what they were a year ago. The Taliban this year are not using just suicide bombers, IED's, and remotely detonated bombings but outright attacks. Observers believe that the Taliban want to test the ability of Afghan forces to operate on their own.
Within the next few months Afghan forces will take over security in the entire country. NATO and US forces will serve in a support and training role. The attack on Friday was on the Third Battalion of the Second Brigade. This unit is one of only a handful of Afghan units rated as capable of operating on its own without any foreign advisers or backup. It was one of only two battalions that had been deployed to Kunar without foreign advisers.
A spokesperson for the Taliban claimed that 15 soldiers were killed in the attack and that they captured all their weapons and ammunition. The Kunar Province police chief Gen. Saidkhelli originally claimed that only two soldiers had been killed, and military authorities at first only said that an attack had taken place. Later the Narai district police chief, confirmed the death of 13 soldiers in the raid, every soldier at the outpost.
In March, insurgents had already killed four police officers and four Afghan soldiers in another district of Kunar province. In northern Badakhshan Province, Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy and killed 17 Afghan soldiers being sent to reinforce police posts on March 7. On March 25, 10 more Afghan soldiers were captured in the same area and are still held by the Taliban.
On the third of April, nine Taliban dressed as Afghan soldiers stormed a government compound in western Farah province killing 10 soldiers and 34 civilians and wounding more than one hundred. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesperson, Gen Azimi said that death rates had risen as the Afghan army and police take over security in Afghanistan. He said on average, 110 soldiers and 200 policemen have been killed in action each month. Later, he said that actually he did not have exact numbers.
The Afghan National Army has to replace and train almost a third of its forces each year because of desertions and attrition. The army lost more than 1,000 soldiers in 2012 and the police lost 1,800 officers. At present there are 148,000 in the Afghan army. Together with the police the total of the security forces is 352,000. In the first three months of 2013 there have been only 25 NATO soldiers killed many of them in accidents.
The Taliban are concentrating attacks not on the remaining NATO forces but on Afghan army and police. The resulting casualties are high but since they are Afghans are little reported by western media. When six Americans including a woman are killed in an attack then that is news. The Karzai government may be willing to negotiate with the Taliban to stop this slaughter once most of the NATO forces leave Afghanistan.
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