A series of attacks in Afghanistan this weekend have left top Taliban officials, a district governor, and multiple police officers dead. The Taliban launched a summer offensive and has not relented despite the government’s desperation to negotiate peace.
Taliban fighters slaughtered at least 20 police officers in southern Helmand province on Saturday at “checkpoints in the Musa Qala districts,” which is 294 miles south of Kabul. Over 10 officers received injuries. The officers at the checkpoints were originally from Baghran, 71 miles north of Musa Qala, because the Taliban recently captured the district.
“Baghran has been under Taliban control since last year, so these police came to Musa Qala and built themselves a small compound and some checkpoints,” explained Saqi Jan, head of police logistics in Musa Qala.
The raid started at midnight and continued all morning.
“We are told the attack was executed by hundreds of the Taliban fighters,” reports Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston. “Over the last six weeks, most of the reports that we’ve heard about the Taliban attacks have actually been in the north and less in the south.”
Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesman, told the AFP the terrorist group murdered the police officers and stole “several weapons, ammunition and other military hardware.”
On Sunday morning in Takhar province, the Taliban assassinated killed Ashkhamish district governor Hamidullah Haqjo and three security guards while he visited security outposts. The town is 312 miles north of Kabul and sits right on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“They were going to visit a checkpost that had been attacked by Taliban overnight… when their car was blown up,” said Abdul Khalil Asir, police spokesman for Takhar province.
Officials claim the militants come from Pakistan who are “fleeing an army offensive” in their home country. They believe this is why violence spiked in the north.
Despite the violence inflicted by the Taliban, a U.S. airstrike killed Omar Zadran, a top Taliban official, and two commanders in the province of Kunar. Another offensive killed 12 militants near the Pakistan border. The U.S. did not confirm if they were behind the strike, but Abdul Hasib Sidiqqi, the Afghan intelligence spokesman, said the agency passed information to America about Zadran’s location. Ahmad Saeedi, an independent analyst on security and politics in Kabul, told Bloomberg News his death is “a big blow” to the Taliban, but did not elaborate.