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More troops sent to west Afghanistan as Taliban step up attacks

AFP  |  Farah (Afghanistan) 

has deployed more troops to a restive western province where a multi-billion-dollar pipeline is planned after the launched multiple attacks against security forces, causing heavy casualties, officials said today.

The latest assault in Farah, which borders Iran, happened in the early hours of Wednesday when militants stormed a checkpoint manned by police and intelligence officers on the outskirts of the provincial capital of the same name, killing seven security forces.

It came as the face growing pressure to take up Afghan Ashraf Ghani's offer of peace talks to end the 16-year insurgency, but so far the group has given only a muted response.

"When commando forces were deployed they (the militants) retreated," Jamila Amini, a member of the Farah provincial council, told AFP.

Four members of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's spy agency, and three police were killed, she added.

The incident and death toll were confirmed by fellow provincial

"We have sent more troops and commando forces to Farah to contain the situation," told AFP, adding the

"The situation will soon come under control," he said.

Taliban fighters on Monday briefly took control of the administrative district, killing eight police, before they were beaten back by security forces, officials said.

That came after an attack on soldiers in district over the weekend that resulted in multiple casualties.

A February 24 raid on an base in the same district killed at least 18 soldiers, officials said, in one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent months.

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of which a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI will traverse.

The conduit is named for the four countries involved: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and

Despite security concerns, the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the project.

Farah has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years. In 2017 insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Analysts Network.

"The security situation has been deteriorating day by day in Farah," Faqiri confirmed, estimating around a dozen security forces are killed in the province every day.

Former Farah resigned in January after days of protests in the provincial capital over rising insecurity.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 14 2018. 21:15 IST