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Raid On Taliban Prison Reportedly Frees Dozens In Afghanistan

Officials say that those rescued in the overnight raid by Afghan and foreign special forces included four children under the age of 12. (illustrative photo)

Afghan officials say more than two dozen people were rescued in a raid against a Taliban prison in the southern province of Helmand.

Army and provincial officials said on November 19 that those rescued in the overnight raid by Afghan and foreign special forces included four children under the age of 12 and two police officers.

Afghan military spokesman Abdul Qadir Bahadurzai said 20 of those released from the prison in Nawzad district had been arrested by the Taliban in connection with helping the government or were family members of the Afghan Army and police.

Mohammad Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, put the number of those rescued at 27.

Zwak said that an investigation is under way to identify the prisoners.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in a statement that the people rescued were all criminals accused of murder, robbery, kidnapping, and other crimes.

Also on November 19, officials in the western province of Farah said that at least six police officers were killed and eight others were wounded in Taliban attacks on three checkpoints.

Mohammad Naser Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that the assaults were repelled with eight militants killed and six others wounded in the fighting.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, which come as the Western-backed government in Kabul is struggling to beat back insurgents in the wake of the exit of most NATO forces in 2014.

Earlier this month, the alliance announced that it would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan from the current 13,000 to 16,000 to aid the government in its fight against the Taliban and other militant groups.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the extra troops would not be involved in combat missions but would be part of the alliance's Resolute Support mission whose aim is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government forces.

The declared increase follows U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement in August of a new South Asia strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pentagon said on November 16 that approximately 3,000 additional American troops had been deployed to Afghanistan under Trump's revised strategy for the war-torn country,

With reporting by Reuters, AP and dpa
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