Death toll up to 50 in Taliban’s airport siege in Kandahar

Afghan Defence Ministry says death toll rises to 50, as siege of Kandahar airport by Taliban militants ends

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Afghan National Army soldiers stand guard in front of a shop burned during the Taliban attack on Kandahar Airport in Kandahar on December 9, 2015

Afghan forces repelled Taliban militants late on Wednesday, ending the siege of the Kandahar Airport while the death toll has risen to 50, the country’s Defence Ministry said.

Afghan forces have killed the last of 11 Taliban militants who were part of the group that carried out the attack which lasted more than 24 hours.

According to the Defence Ministry’s latest statement, 38 of those who have been killed in Taliban's attack were civilians, two of them were police officers and 10 were soldiers.

On Tuesday, Taliban militants attacked the airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar which formally served as the capital of the Taliban government, before they were toppled by NATO forces.

Operations of Afghani forces against the militants slowly proceeded to keep the civilian causalities at a minimum, the ministry said.

During the clashes, the officials said Taliban militants took position in an old school in the surrounding area of the airport which was used both as a civilian  airport and a military base.

"Several insurgents took up position inside a school and firing at the airport," said Sameem Khpalwak, a spokesman for the local governor.

Witnesses said attackers who Taliban’s spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said to be “many,” had taken civilians hostage and used them as “human shields” after they entered the high security complex.

“This is the most serious attack we’ve witnessed against the [Kandahar] complex”, a Western official told AFP.

The attack in Kandahar coincided with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Pakistan for Heart of Asia regional conference aimed to improve a peace process with the Taliban.

"I strongly reiterate our commitment to lasting and just peace within which all movements that resort to arms convert themselves to political parties and participate in the political process legitimately," Ghani said.

"Violence is not the way in a democratic society."

Afghanistan-Pakistan peace talks which began in July were stalled in August when Taliban’s leader Mullah Omar’s death was confirmed and the new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour intensified its offensive.

TRTWorld and agencies