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Taliban attack on Kandahar airfield repelled; 46 killed

Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan, is about 480 kilometers (300 miles) southwest of the capital of Kabul.

The Taliban said “martyrdom seekers” entered the base undetected to start “thunderous attacks on foreign and hireling personnel”, killing up to 80 soldiers – an unverified claim. The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are separate but allied.

The raid coincided with President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad on Wednesday for the Heart of Asia conference, where he made a plea for more support from neighbours to fight the growing insurgency.

The raid comes after fevered speculation about the fate of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour following reports that he was critically wounded in afirefight with his own commanders in Pakistan. It is said that nine of the attackers are dead, and one wounded.

“The Taliban has shown to the Afghan people that they are still strong in the South and can launch an operation like this” even in a supposedly fortified airport compound, Azimy added.

An attack targeting Kandahar global airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday evening claimed the lives of at least nineteen people and left at least twenty other injured.

A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, Dawlat Waziri, said that “37 people, many of them civilians”, have been killed since Tuesday.

Some 27 hours after the siege began, soldiers late Wednesday killed the last insurgent who was holed up inside a building and doggedly resisted security forces till the very end.

Less than 10,000 USA troops remain in Afghanistan, where they are mainly advising and supporting Afghan security forces and providing a counter-terrorism mission to directly target al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

There were no coalition force casualties, said U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn, a coalition spokesman. The Taliban, fighting to re-establish Islamist rule after US-led military intervention ousted them from power in 2001, have been struggling to settle a leadership dispute of late.

“In days gone by, there has been the temptation to use non-state actors as instruments of foreign policy”, he told the discussion, a clear reference to Afghan affirmations that Pakistan supports the Taliban to keep influence in Afghanistan and block the sway of its rival, India.

The Taliban attacked Afghan security forces and took control of Khanisheen district in southern Helmand province, according to the head of provincial council of Helmand province.

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