Taliban kill 15 Afghan police in highway ambush

August 29, 2013 3:55:44 AM PDT
Taliban insurgents staged an evening mountain pass ambush on an Afghan police convoy patrolling a key highway, killing 15 officers and wounding 10 in western Afghanistan's Farah province, a provincial official said Thursday. Earlier, a rocket attack nearby killed six truck drivers and destroyed dozens of trucks that carry fuel for coalition forces.

Insurgents fled unharmed after they attacked about 40 officers in the convoy driving on the main trade route through the province, Farah provincial spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandai said Thursday.

Before dawn Wednesday near the ambush site, rockets were fired at a fuel truck parking, and one truck full of gasoline exploded after being hit. The raging fire destroyed about 35 of the 40 trucks in the lot and killed six of the drivers, who spend the night there because the threat of insurgent attacks on highways makes it too dangerous for them to drive after dark.

The Taliban have escalated attacks in recent months as they try to take advantage of the withdrawal of foreign troops, who handed over security for the country to Afghan forces two months ago.

Insurgents also managed to kill a U.S. soldier and wound 10 Polish soldiers in a car bomb attack at a coalition base in eastern Afghanistan, but officials said the Taliban failed in their attempt to take over parts of the facility and kill more people.

Two car bombs driven by insurgents wearing bomb vests detonated at the base located in a populated part of Gahzni city, but Afghan forces managed to prevent two more from being blown up. Afghan officials said Thursday the casualty count would have been much higher if the Taliban had managed to carry out one of their complex attack plans to date.

One of the Polish soldiers was in serious condition, and the Gahzni hospital said 35 civilians and Afghan security force personnel were wounded.

"The Afghan army prevented huge casualties among civilian and military personnel," said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

A total of 35 people were killed and 73 were wounded on Wednesday in the ambush, the base assault, and in three other attacks around the country.

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