The Taliban have ramped up military activity in the eastern regions of the country, particularly in the border areas in Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan provinces over the past two months, Afghan security officials said.
According to the officials, fighters from Al Qaeda and Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad groups are also fighting the Afghan security forces alongside the Taliban.
General Ayoub Hussainkhel, the commander of border security forces in the east, said that the Taliban have increased their attacks on the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in the east:
“Over the past two months, the enemies of Afghanistan have increased their attacks on the country’s security forces by 50 percent. The security forces of the country, particularly the border security forces, have been mobilized and equipped and they have attained the support of the people,” said Gen. Hussainkhel.
In an incident on Sunday night, Taliban fighters attacked a checkpoint of the public uprising force in Khogyani district of Nangarhar; however, Afghan forces repelled the attack after six hours of intense fighting, said local officials, who added that at least eight Taliban fighters were killed.
Hazrat Gul, who commanded Sunday night's battle with the Taliban, said that the Taliban fighters are equipped with modern and sophisticated weapons.
“The Taliban attacked us, but we gave them an adequate response--all security organs supported us during the battle,” said Hazrat Gul.
“Groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad (Pakistan based militant group) and Al Qaeda are also operating here. There are Pakistanis among them, too," said Mohammad Hassan, the commander of public uprising force in east. Pointing at the body of a slain Taliban member, Hassan said: "The dead body you see here belongs to the Afridi tribe, you will come to know later which area of Pakistan this dead body will be transferred to.”
“Peace talks should be a priority. There should be an inclusive Afghan team to represent Afghanistan. If this does not happen, then the security forces need to tackle this war,” said Obaidullah Shinwari, the deputy head of Nangarhar provincial council.
According to the Afghan security officials in the east, over recent months fighters from Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Qaeda have aligned with the Taliban in the east. But the Taliban have rejected this, calling it "a lie."