Fresh fighting in central and eastern Afghanistan has killed at least 20 people, half of them civilians, fueling security concerns among voters ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections. Authorities in the central Maidan Wardak province confirmed Sunday the Taliban overnight staged a major offensive on the Sayed Abad district headquarters. The insurgents briefly overran key government installations in Sayed Abad, killing the district police chief along with at least nine other policemen. The Taliban also set fire to some official buildings before withdrawing from the district center, a usual rebel tactic. Sayed Abad is located on the main highway linking the national capital of Kabul to southern Afghanistan. Insurgents blew up bridges on the highway before assaulting the district, blocking all traffic, the provincial governor, Mohammad Arif Shajahan, confirmed Sunday. The Taliban has also planted mines on parts of the high, he added.
Meanwhile, residents in the eastern Paktia province have informed top police officials that counterinsurgency airstrikes by government forces killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 20 others in Garda Sairi district.
A Taliban spokesman confirmed fighting in the area, claiming its fighters killed at least 10 Afghan security forces and wounded several others, though insurgent claims are often inflated.