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Published on : Thursday, December 10, 2015
An attack by the Taliban on Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan has left at least 37 dead and 35 wounded, the defence ministry said. The dead and the injured included civilians and members of security forces.
In addition, nine Taliban fighters were also killed and another wounded with a final survivor still resisting security forces, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the operation had proceeded slowly to keep casualties low.
“Afghanistan’s national army forces are bravely fighting terrorists in areas around the airport areas and are trying to act cautiously to avoid harm to civilians,” the ministry said.
The airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second biggest city, has for years been a major hub for operations of international forces, most of whom had withdrawn from Afghanistan by the 2014 end.
A NATO’s Resolute Support mission spokesman said there had been no reports of casualties among the hundreds of international personnel at the air base but he had no other details.
The raid in one of the Taliban’s traditional strongholds coincided with the start of the Heart of Asia regional security conference in Islamabad, where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a plea for more regional support to fight the growing Islamist insurgency.
Officials said fighters attacked a perimeter area of the huge, heavily fortified complex on Tuesday evening, initially taking up position in a school in a residential area of the site, which houses both a civilian airport and military base.
NATO military personnel, civilian contractors and Afghan forces are based there.
Earlier, the Taliban said in a statement 150 soldiers had been killed but the militants often exaggerated the casualty claims in the past.
But the attack on one of the most heavily protected bases in the country underlined their ability to inflict serious damage on security forces still shaken by the Taliban’s brief capture of the northern city of Kunduz in September.