KABUL (Dispatches) – At least 150 Afghan troops have been killed or injured in the last 24 hours in a surge of attacks by Taliban militants, senior government officials said on Monday.
Fighting is now raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Casualties were “shockingly high”, one added.
The government says clashes over territory have increased as the United States missed a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from the country and pushed the pullout date back to Sept. 11.
The Taliban had already warned that failure of the foreign troops to withdraw would cause tension.
The Taliban seized Shahrak district of western Ghor province on Monday and forced Afghan troops to retreat to nearby villages after a heavy firefight, local officials said.
A powerful car bomb targeting a police headquarters in the Khas Balkh district of Balkh province killed at least four people and wounded 50 more including civilians on Sunday, officials said.
On the same day, Taliban militants stormed the Qaisar district of northern Faryab province, killing and wounding dozens of Afghan security forces, a police official said.
Government troops have launched an operation to recapture a strategic district of Nerkh of Wardak province that lies less than an hour’s drive from the capital Kabul, a defense ministry official said.
“In the past 24 hours, there were unfortunately 157 casualties among forces,” one senior official said on condition of anonymity because they were allowed to speak to media.
Political talks between the government and the Taliban have largely stalled as Washington pulls its troops out 20 years after U.S. invasion of the country.
Both sides have accused the other of provoking and failing to halt attacks against civilians.
In another development, the Taliban say Afghans who used to work with foreign forces as interpreters have nothing to fear after the withdrawal of troops if they “show remorse.”
The Taliban made the announcement after many Afghan translators working alongside U.S. and NATO troops demonstrated in the capital, Kabul, demanding foreign forces and embassies that they worked with help them leave the country a head of U.S. President Joe Biden’s September 11 withdrawal deadline.
The Afghan translators said they were afraid the Taliban would “take revenge” on them since they were seen as U.S. agents and spies.
“They shall not be in any danger on our part,” the Taliban said in a statement.
The Taliban “would like to inform all the above people that they should show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future,” the statement added.