Taliban Kill More Than 200 Afghan Defenders on 4 Fronts: 'a Catastrophe'

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan government forces lost more than 200 officers and soldiers in fighting over the past three days as Taliban insurgents launched sustained attacks on four different fronts.

The hardest -hit area was the southeastern city of Ghazni, where more than 100 police officers and soldiers had been killed by Sunday, a hospital official said, and the insurgents appeared to be in control of most of the strategic city aside from a few important government facilities.

Ninety miles west, in Ghazni Province, the Taliban seized control of the Ajristan District, and the elite army commando unit that had been defending the district disappeared for two days and their superiors were uncertain of their fate. When they found out on Sunday, estimates of the dead ranged from 40 to 100. Twenty-two survivors were carried to safety on donkeys by rescuers who found them lost in the mountains.

In Faryab Province, 250 miles to the northwest, an isolated Afghan National Army base of 100 soldiers lost more than half of its men in a Taliban assault that ended early Sunday morning. The defenders said they did not expect to last another night.

And 275 miles east of the Faryab base, in northern Baghlan Province, at a base at Jangal Bagh on the strategic highway between Pul-i-Kumri and Kunduz, insurgents killed seven policemen and nine soldiers and captured three other soldiers on Saturday.

With the tempo of the Afghan conflict steadily increasing, it was a bad few days for the Afghan government. The fighting demonstrated that the insurgents had a capacity for carrying out ambitious operations on multiple fronts, while the government struggled to respond on a single front in Ghazni.

Baz Mohammad Hemat, the director of the Ghazni Hospital, said by telephone that 113 bodies had been taken to the hospital, along with 142 people who had been wounded, most of them in uniform.

“We’re running out of hospital rooms; we are using corridors and available space everywhere,” Mr. Hemat said. “Fighting is quite close to the hospital. The situation is really bad here. We’re receiving more and more wounded and dead every hour.”

The death toll appeared sure to rise, with numerous reports of bodies left unrecovered around the city. The fall of Ghazni, if it happens, would be the Taliban’s most important victory yet, as the city is on the main north-south highway, and its capture would effectively cut off the capital, Kabul, and the north from the insurgents’ Pashtun homeland in the south.

“Heavy fighting is ongoing around the governor’s office, the Police Headquarters and the compound of the intelligence agency,” said Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, a member of the provincial council. “The forces in Ghazni have resisted well, but naturally they have fought so long. The reinforcements have not done anything effective. All they have done is establish a base for themselves.”

He added, “Bodies are lying around, they have decomposed, and no one is doing anything to evacuate them.”

The Afghan Minister of Public Health, Ferozuddin Feroz, said he had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross for “urgent help” in transporting the wounded and dead out of Ghazni.

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