20 killed as insurgents attack Afghan military base

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Srinagar: Insurgents have killed at least 20 Afghan security forces in separate attacks as many marked the 17th anniversary of the killing of a prominent anti-Taliban leader.

The Taliban attacked a district headquarters west of Kabul late Saturday, killing 10 police, including a district chief, and setting of a gunbattle that was still underway, said Hakmat Durani, spokesman for the police chief of Maidan Wardak province. He said dozens of insurgents were killed in Afghan airstrikes, and that reinforcements were being sent to the area.

In a separate attack late Saturday, militants targeted a checkpoint in the western Herat province, killing nine security forces and wounding six others, said Gelani Farhad, the provincial governor’s spokesman. He blamed the attack on the Taliban, saying around 10 insurgents were killed and five wounded during the ensuing gunbattle.

No one claimed responsibility for either attack.

The attacks came on the eve of the anniversary of the killing of Ahmad Shah Masoud, who led the resistance to the Taliban in the late 1990s and was killed by suicide bombers two days before the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. responded to the attacks by invading Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaida.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber targeted a convoy of mourners marking the anniversary, killing at least one person, according to Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said another 10 people were hospitalized, some in critical condition. Earlier, another suicide attacker was shot dead by police in Kabul before he could detonate his payload, Stanikzai said.

Afghan government officials commemorated Masoud’s death on Sunday by laying flowers at his monument in Kabul. Supporters of Masoud, including young people who came of age long after his death, fired guns in the air in an expression of mourning.

At least 13 people were wounded by the stray bullets, Majroh said.