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Balamorghab ambush
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
DateNovember 27, 2008
LocationBadghis Province, Afghanistan.
Result Taliban victory
Belligerents
Afghanistan Afghan National Army
Afghanistan Afghan National Police
Afghanistan Taliban insurgents
Commanders and leaders
Mawlawi Ghulam Dastagir
Strength
200 200+[1]
Casualties and losses
14 killed,
27 injured,
20 captured[2]
N/A


The Balamorghab ambush occurred on November 27, 2008, when a force of Afghan security forces was attacked by Taliban insurgents. The ambush took place near Balamorghab in Badghis Province, in Northwestern Afghanistan, and resulted in heavy casualties for the government forces. It was described as "one of the most humiliating attacks the Afghan security forces had ever suffered".[2]

Badghis province has seen a marked increase in insurgent activity, and while in 2007 the number of Taliban militants was estimated at 200, by 2008 it had grown to over 2,000. In March 2008, an Afghan intelligence operation succeeded in arresting Mawlawi Ghulam Dastagir, one of the principal Taliban commanders in Badghis.[1] However, in September a delegation of elders from Badghis met President Hamid Karzai, and persuaded him to release Dastagir, claiming that he wasn't an enemy of the state.[2]

On November 26, a supply convoy guarded by 200 men of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police left Qala i Naw, the capital of Badghis province, for Balamorghab. Their objective was to supply a police force in the village, which is considered a Taliban stronghold. On November 27, the convoy was travelling down a narrow gorge near Balamorghab, when it was hit by small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. An oil tanker was set on fire, blocking the road, and the different elements of the convoy became separated. The insurgent attack lasted several hours, ending only after the arrival of Afghan commandos in helicopters. During the engagement, five policemen and nine soldiers were killed, and 20 of the security forces were injured and 20 captured. In addition 19 vehicles were destroyed and five captured by the insurgents.[2] A Spanish military unit was called for help, but Spanish troops, heavily constrained by restrictive rules of engagement, were allowed only to provide cover from distance for the convoy's retreat.[3]

Karzais decision to release Dastagir was criticized, especially as certain officials claimed the elders who secured his release were acting under orders from the Taliban. The command of the ANA 207 Corps was also criticized, as the unit had already suffered losses in other provinces. When interviewed, Mawlawi Ghulam Dastagir enthusiastically confirmed he had led the attack. Over the preceding three years, insurgent forces in Badghis have grown from almost nothing to a strength estimated at several hundred.[2]

On February 16, 2009, Afghan officials claimed that Dastagir and his deputy had been killed in an airstrike in Balamorghab.[4] The Taliban later confirmed his death.[5]

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