Taliban Insurgents Execute 29 Afghan Border Officers

Afghan border police
Afghan border police / AP

The Taliban stormed two check points in the southern Helmand province, killing 29 Afghan border police officers, an Afghan official said.

According to the Associated Press, provincial council member Bashir Ahmad Shakir explained that the officers were executed in a three-day confrontation with the Taliban. Insurgents killed 21 border officials and kept eight hostage, later killing them.

The violence comes just days after data from the United Nations indicated that the Taliban now has the most reach in Afghanistan since U.S. forces ousted the group in 2001.

The data, collected in September, showed that U.N. security officials rated the threat level as either "high" or "extreme" in half of Afghanistan’s districts, a figure higher than any recorded in 2001. Over 10 percent of all districts were given an extreme threat rating.

The U.N. data also indicated that the Taliban has been expanding its reach more quickly in several areas that previously did not have any Taliban presence.

Despite his initial plan to reduce the U.S. troop level in Afghanistan to a small embassy force by the time he leaves office, President Obama is currently considering a plan to leave up to 5,000 American troops in the war-torn country through 2016.

Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, recommended during congressional testimony last week that Obama consider leaving a larger force in the country, citing the rise of the Islamic State and insurgent violence there.

"Based on conditions on the ground, I do believe we have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan we are going with," Campbell, who has developed multiple options for leaving more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.