AT-KABUL: Afghan security forces have targeted a big gathering of the Taliban insurgents in western Herat province before they could attack government controlled areas in a big offensives, in which Taliban fighters were invited from neighboring provinces as well, officials said Wednesday.
Around 200 to 300 Taliban fighters, most of them from two neighboring provinces of Ghor and Badghis, were gathered in Chesht district of Herat province and were planning to attack the district center and Salma dam on Tuesday morning, provincial official said.
But security forces based on prior intelligence carried out airstrikes and ground operations against the group, in which at least 30 fighters of the Taliban were killed and scores others were injured, Defense Ministry Spokesman, Muhammad Radmanish told Afghanistan Times.
Radmanish said the militants were trying to attack the district center first and then the nearby Salma dam, the only big power project in western Afghanistan, to serve interests of the foreign intelligent networks in the region.
Jailani Farhad, the spokesman for Herat governor said the number of the killed and injured Taliban is high, but they cannot give exact numbers at the moment, because the attack took place in area which is remote and mountainous.
But the Taliban rejected their fighters have suffered such a big casualties in the bombing.
Taliban have on several occasions tried to attack and gain control of the Chesht district of Herat where Salma dam, the only mega project that have been completed in power sector in recent years, have been located.
Officials blame Taliban to have been attacking the dam on the direction of neighboring Iran, which is unhappy with the construction of the dam, which started decades ago, but completed only last year with the financial and technical support of India.
Few months back Taliban fighters in an armed attack killed 10 security forces, deployed near to Salma dam to ensure security around the dam in the district.
Although Taliban leader several times have directed his fighters not to attack welfare and public projects including hydropower dams, but fighters of the group still continue to attack such facilities in deferent parts of the country.