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Saturday 5th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Country gripped by spate of violence

AFGHAN forces killed at least 40 Taliban fighters yesterday morning in a 12-hour gun battle in Helmand province.

The fighting erupted after the extremists attacked a local market.

The clash was the latest in a string of attacks which took place across Afghanistan last week.

On Thursday night a Georgian soldier from the Nato-led Resolute Support mission was killed and six other personnel injured in a suicide bomb attack.

Two Afghan civilians were also killed when the bomber, who was disguised beneath a woman’s burqa, rammed his motorcycle into a Nato convoy near the town of Qarabagh, north of Kabul.

The former Soviet republic of Georgia is not a Nato member but has some 900 troops in Afghanistan as part of the US-led occupation.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid yesterday took responsibility for the attack — claiming 11 US troops were killed.

Another Taliban suicide attack on a Nato convoy on Wednesday killed two US soldiers.

And on Tuesday 30 people were killed in a blast at a Mosque in Herat.

According to the United Nations at least 1,662 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2017, with 20 per cent of those in Kabul.

US commanders in Afghanistan have called for more US troops to be deployed in the country amid mounting attacks by the Taliban and a group known as Isis in Qarabagh.

On Thursday anonymous US government officials claimed Mr Trump repeatedly suggested Defence Secretary James Mattis should sack the commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen Nicholson at a heated meeting on July 19.

“I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years,” he reportedly told the meeting in the White House Situation Room. “We aren’t winning. We are losing.”

But in April he gave Mr Mattis unprecedented autonomy over military operations abroad, including authority to order air strikes or commando raids on suspected terrorists in countries such as Yemen without White House approval.