HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) – Afghan security forces under attack in northwestern Afghanistan called in NATO air strikes in heavy clashes that left dozens of Taliban fighters dead, authorities said Monday.
The deputy governor of Badghis province, Abdul Ghani Saber, told AFP that around 55 Taliban were killed in the fighting late Sunday.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that it had carried out air strikes in the area and said its information was that 10 insurgents had been killed.
The clash was in the remote Bala Murghab district, near the border with Turkmenistan, and it was impossible to independently verify the death toll.
“Yesterday, about 300 to 400 Taliban attacked our police posts in Bala Murghab district. With the help of coalition air support, we killed about 55 Taliban,” Saber said.
The toll was based on intelligence from the area, he said. Some of the bodies had also been recovered.
A regional police spokesman, Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, said his information was that “about 46 Taliban were killed and more than 30 others have been wounded.”
The ISAF media office in Kabul said the force had sent in aircraft after an attack on police.
“There was an attack on a police station and we supported with air power during the night. As far as we know, we have 10 insurgents killed,” an official said.
The Taliban were in government between 1996 and 2001, when they were ousted in an invasion led by the United States weeks after the 9/11 attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda leaders who then had bases in Afghanistan.
They are waging an intensifying insurgency that is focussed on the southern and eastern borders with Pakistan, where militants are alleged to have sanctuaries.
But Badghis and the neighboring province of Farah have seen a spike in unrest in recent months.