June 6, 2016
A deadly ambush by suspected Taliban militants has claimed the lives of at least seven people, including a district intelligence chief and his deputy, in Afghanistan’s northern province of Sar-i-Pul, officials say.
Zabi Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack took place in Sangcharak district of the province early on Monday, adding that the intelligence chief and his deputy were the targets.
Three army intelligence officers and two civilians, including a small child, were also killed in the fatal ambush, Amani noted.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. However, the Afghan officials blame such attacks on the Taliban group, which has recently intensified its acts of terror in once-calm Afghanistan’s northern provinces.
Separately, at least four members of an illegal armed group were killed in a gun battle with another rival group in the Sholgara district of northern Balkh province on Monday. Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the fierce fighting killed one of the group’s leaders and three other men.
Last week, the police chief of the Sholgara district was killed when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.
Terror attacks have been rising in frequency in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern provinces bordering Pakistan during past months.
On Sunday, an American journalist and his Afghan translator were killed in a Taliban ambush in southern Afghanistan. David Gilkey of US National Public Radio (NPR) and his interpreter, Zabihullah Tamanna, who were traveling with the Afghan army, came under fire by Taliban militants near the town of Marjah.
The intensified attacks by the Taliban come more than one and a half months after the group began its annual spring offensive. The fresh assaults also follow recent selection of Haibatullah Akhundzada as the new leader of the Taliban.
Estimates show that about 200,000 people have been killed in less than three decades of Taliban militancy in Afghanistan.
The government in Kabul has undertaken a series of initiatives for peace with the group amid ongoing fighting across the country.
Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity.
There are currently some 10,000 foreign forces in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission on December 31, 2014. The forces, mainly from the US, are there for what Washington calls a support mission. NATO says the forces focus mainly on counter-terrorism operations and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.