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Taliban kill 30 Afghan soldiers in 1st major raid after truce

This file photo shows Afghan police officers at the site of a bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 4, 2018. (By Reuters)

Taliban militants have launched multiple attacks in western Afghanistan, capturing a military base and killing at least 30 soldiers, only two days after the militants announced the end of a three-day ceasefire.

The militants attacked a military base in the district of Balamerghab, killing the 30 soldiers after hours of fighting and then overrunning the site on Wednesday, said Abdul Aziz Bek, the head of the Badghis provincial council.

“Large numbers of Taliban came from several directions,” he said, adding that 15 militants were killed in other areas of the western province of Badghis overnight.

The Taliban militants also attacked two checkpoints in Badghis in the early hours of Wednesday.  A spokesman for the Badghis police also said the Taliban killed four soldiers in separate attacks on the security checkpoints.

Aziz Bek said the Taliban had prepared for the attack and done reconnaissance of the area during their three-day ceasefire for Eid al-Fitr, which marked the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Taliban announced the end of the ceasefire on Sunday, though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani extended his government’s own unilateral truce for ten days.

The government’s ceasefire is due to end later on Wednesday.

During the ceasefire, the Taliban militants headed into cities across the country, including Kabul, and celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Some, however, criticized the government, arguing that the militants took advantage of the lull in fighting to prepare new attacks as they were allowed into the cities without being checked.

“The consequences could be disastrous,” said a senior Western diplomat in Kabul.

The Taliban have been fighting against the government since their five-year rule over the country came to an end with the US-led invasion in 2001.

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