Herat (Afghanistan): At least 20 Afghan commandos were killed in a Taliban ambush in western Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday, marking yet another loss for the elite troops amid a push to end the war.
Provincial governor Abdul Ghafoor Malikzai said the special forces soldiers were ambushed Monday after flying into Abkamari district in Badghis province, a known Taliban hot spot. "The commando forces descended... without coordination with other security forces," Malikzai told AFP.
"They were surrounded by Taliban fighters and fought for hours. Unfortunately, 21 of them were killed. Some were captured," he added. The Afghan defence ministry had no immediate comment. Abdul Aziz Bek, the head of the Badghis provincial council, put the toll at 29 killed, saying some of the Afghan soldiers had been slain after they'd been captured.
"Some 40 commando soldiers were brought in by four helicopters from neighbouring Ghor province for an operation, but they got ambushed as soon as they descended. Only 11 of them were rescued later," Bek told AFP.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying over 30 soldiers had been killed. Afghanistan's small, US-trained special operations forces represent only a small fraction of the approximately 300,000-member security forces.
The battle-hardened commandos have been carrying out most of the offensive operations being launched across the country, and have suffered high casualties. The Afghan war grinds on even as the US and the Taliban have held talks about a possible peace agreement, with Afghan fighters and the Taliban still taking daily losses.
On Saturday, four Afghan security forces were killed in Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis province, when Taliban insurgents attacked a hotel.