Afghan War Casualty Report: May 2021

Published May 6, 2021 | Updated June 3, 2021 | By Fatima Faizi, Fahim Abed and Najim Rahim


At least 405 pro-government forces and 260 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in May, the highest total death toll in a single month since July 2019.


The following report compiles all significant security incidents confirmed by New York Times reporters throughout Afghanistan for the month. It is necessarily incomplete as many local officials refuse to confirm casualty information. The report includes government claims of insurgent casualty figures, but in most cases, these cannot be independently verified by The Times. Similarly, the reports do not include Taliban claims for their attacks on the government unless they can be verified. Both sides routinely inflate casualty totals for their opponents.

May 28-31, 2021

At least 46 pro-government forces and 29 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in the final four days of the month, giving May the highest total death toll in a single month since July 2019. The deadliest attack occurred in Jowzjan Province, where the Taliban attacked a security outpost in Faizabad district, killing five pro-government militia members and three police officers and a civilian. The outpost was overrun by the Taliban. In Helmand, a car bomb attributed to the Taliban targeted a security base in Gereshk district, killing three commandos and four soldiers and wounding 52 others.

[Read the Afghan War Casualty Report from previous weeks.]

May 31 Herat Province: two civilians killed

During a firefight between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Ghoryan district, two civilians were killed and five others were wounded.

May 31 Kabul Province: one police officer killed

A police officer was gunned down by unknown armed men in the 12th Police District of Kabul city, the capital. The attackers managed to escape the area. An investigation is underway.

May 31 Baghlan Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban attacked a security checkpoint in Khost district, killing one police officer. After a five-hour clash, the Taliban were pushed back from the area.

May 31 Balkh Province: one civilian killed

Unknown armed men shot and killed a civilian inside his shop in the Eighth Police District of Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital. May 31 Jowzjan Province: six civilians killed

A rickshaw was hit by a rocket in Faizabad district during a firefight between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. Six civilians, including two children, were killed and one child was wounded.

May 31 Ghazni Province: one civilian killed

A tribal elder was shot to death by unknown gunmen in Ghazni city, the provincial capital. The attackers then fled the scene.

May 31 Faryab Province: one pro-government militia member killed

In an insider attack, a pro-government militia commander was killed in his outpost in Qurghan district. The attacker then joined the Taliban, which confirmed they were behind the attack.


May 31 Baghlan Province: seven security forces killed

A Humvee packed with explosives targeted a police headquarters in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, killing four police officers, two soldiers and one commando and wounding 12 security forces and 16 civilians.

May 30 Badghis Province: one soldier killed

The Taliban attacked Jawand district center, killing one soldier and wounding one more. The fighting continued for two hours, but the Taliban were pushed back.

May 30 Badghis Province: one N.D.S. killed

During a Taliban attack on a security outpost in Ab-Kamari district, an officer of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, was killed.

May 30 Parwan Province: one civilian killed

A civilian was killed and one more was wounded by unknown armed men in Charikar, the provincial capital. The attackers fled the area.

May 30 Parwan Province: one police officer killed

The deputy police chief of Kapisa Province was gunned down by unknown armed men in Charikar while he was returning to his office.

May 30 Parwan Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban ambushed a convoy of Afghan security forces in Shinwari district while they were driving to Daikundi Province. During the attack, one police officer was killed and two others were wounded.

May 30 Jowzjan Province: eight security forces and one civilian killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Faizabad district, killing five pro-government militia members and three police officers and a civilian. The outpost was overrun by the Taliban.

May 29 Herat Province: six soldiers killed

A military vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Ghoryan district, killing six soldiers.

May 29 Kapisa Province: seven civilians killed

A mortar round fired by the Taliban during a firefight between the insurgents and Afghan security forces hit a wedding party in Tagab district, killing seven civilians and wounding six others.

May 29 Parwan Province: four civilians killed

Four civilians were killed and 11 more were wounded in an explosion that targeted a vehicle carrying Alberoni University professors and students in Charikar. They were traveling from Kabul to Kapisa province.

May 29 Paktika Province: one police officer killed

A police officer was killed and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb explosion in Sarhawaza district.

May 29 Badghis Province: one N.D.S. officer killed

A roadside bomb exploded in Moqor district, killing an N.D.S. officer.

May 28 Badghis Province: one N.D.S. officer killed

The Taliban shot and killed an N.D.S. officer in Moqor district.

May 28 Badghis Province: two civilians killed

Two civilians driving up to a checkpoint in Ab-Kamari district were shot and killed by Afghan security forces when they didn’t pay attention to the warning to stop.

May 28 Zabul Province: five police officers killed

The Taliban attacked security outposts in Qalat, the provincial capital, killing five police officers and wounding three others.

May 28 Faryab Province: two police officers killed

In Khwaja Sabz Posh district, two police officers were killed and an outpost fell to the Taliban, who were retaliating after an operation by Afghan police forces.

May 28 Kunduz Province: one pro-government militia member killed

One pro-government militia member was killed during an operation by the Afghan security forces against the Taliban in Imam Sahib district.

May 28 Daikundi Province: one civilian killed

A roadside bomb exploded in Pato district, killing one child and wounding three more.

May 28 Helmand Province: three civilians killed

A Taliban mortar round hit a house in Gereshk district, killing three civilians, including two women, and wounding five others.

May 28 Helmand Province: seven security forces killed

A car bomb attributed to the Taliban targeted a security base in Gereshk district, killing three commandos and four soldiers and wounding 52 others.

May 21-27, 2021

At least 72 pro-government forces and 27 civilians were killed in Afghanistan the past week. The deadliest incident occurred in Baghlan Province, where the Taliban attacked a security outpost in Gozargah-e-Noor district, killing eight territorial army soldiers and wounding 10 others. In Badakhshan, the Taliban attacked a pro-government militia commander’s house in Darayem district, killing six pro-government militia members, including the commander.

Since May 1, at least 26 outposts and bases in just four provinces — Laghman, Baghlan, Wardak and Ghazni — have surrendered after negotiations with the Taliban, according to village elders and government officials. With morale diving as American troops leave, and the Taliban seizing on each surrender as a propaganda victory, each collapse feeds the next in the Afghan countryside.

[Read the Afghan War Casualty Report from previous weeks.]

May 27 Kapisa Province: three civilians killed

Three civilians, including a tribal elder, were killed in a bomb explosion in Mahmoud Raqi, the provincial capital. No group has claimed responsibility.

May 26 Farah Province: one civilian killed

A female employee of Farah prison was killed by the Taliban in Farah city, the provincial capital, while she was traveling in their controlled area.

May 26 Takhar Province: one militia member killed

During a Taliban attack on security outposts in Taliqan, the provincial capital, a pro-government militia member was killed and one more was wounded. The Taliban retreated from the area.

May 26 Balkh Province: one soldier killed

The Taliban attacked Sholgara district’s center, killing one soldier and wounding one other. The Taliban were pushed back from the district.

May 26 Faryab Province: four civilians killed

Four civilians were killed and six civilians and two security forces were wounded by a mortar round fired by the Taliban in Qaisar district.

May 26 Kabul Province: two N.D.S. officers killed

Unknown gunmen shot and killed two officers of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, in the Fifth Police District of Kabul, the capital. The attackers managed to flee the scene.

May 26 Takhar Province: three pro-government militia member killed

The Taliban ambushed security forces in the center of Yangi Qala district while they were on a patrol, killing three pro-government militia members.

May 26 Badghis Province: five N.D.S. forces killed

Five N.D.S. officers were killed in a Taliban ambush in Qala-e-Naw, the provincial capital.

May 25 Kabul Province: one civilian killed

A civilian was shot to death by unknown armed men in Bagrami district. The attackers escaped the area.

May 25 Logar Province: four civilians killed

A mortar fired by an unknown group hit a house in Baraki Barak district, killing four civilians.

May 25 Jowzjan Province: six pro-government militia members killed

Six pro-government militia members were killed in a Taliban attack on Aqcha district. An outpost fell to the Taliban and the fighting went on for more 24 hours. The district is under the siege and the Taliban placed roadside bombs along the highway.

May 25 Parwan Province: one civilian and one police officer killed

Unknown armed men shot and killed a civilian and a police officer in Sayed Khel district and escaped the area.

May 24 Nangarhar Province: five security forces killed

The Taliban attacked security outposts in Achin district, killing four territorial army and one border soldier and wounding six others.

May 24 Logar Province: one security force killed

A security guard of Afghanistan’s National Bank was gunned down in Puli-e-Alam, the provincial capital. The attacker fled the scene.

May 24 Baghlan Province: three soldiers killed

During a Taliban attack on security outposts in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, three soldiers were killed. The outposts fell to the Taliban and the Afghan security forces retreated from the area.

May 24 Badakhshan Province: two militia members killed

Two pro-government militia members were killed and seven others, including three civilians, were wounded during a Taliban attack in Yaftal-e-Bala district.

May 24 Kabul Province: one soldier killed

A magnetic bomb attached to a police vehicle exploded in Bagrami district, killing one police officer and wounding one more.

May 23 Baghlan Province: three civilians killed

Three civilians, including two women, were killed in an airstrike in Pul-e-Khumri, the provincial capital.

May 23 Kunduz Province: one soldier killed

A soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a Taliban ambush in Imam Sahib district. The fighting continued for a few hours, but the security forces managed to get out.

May 23 Badakhshan Province: two security forces killed

The Taliban attacked security outposts in Wardoj district center, killing two territorial army soldiers and wounding six others. The Taliban were pushed back from the district.

May 23 Helmand Province: two civilians killed

Two Hazara civilians were shot to death by unknown gunmen after evening prayer in Greshk district. The attackers managed to escape.

May 23 Takhar Province: one N.D.S. officer killed

An N.D.S. officer was killed by the Taliban in Hazar Smuch district while he was on his way home.

May 23 Logar Province: two N.D.S. officers killed

The Taliban attacked and killed two N.D.S. officers while they were patrolling in Mohammad Agha district.

May 23 Laghman Province: one police officer killed

The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Mehtarlam, the provincial capital, killing a police officer.

May 23 Kunduz Province: four civilians killed

Unknown armed men attacked a house in Khanabad district, killing four civilians, including a woman, and wounding three others. The attackers fled the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. An investigation is underway.

May 23 Kandahar Province: one police officer killed

Armed men on a motorcycle shot and killed a police officer in Kandahar city, the provincial capital. The attacker escaped the scene.

May 23 Badakhshan Province: six security forces killed

The Taliban attacked a pro-government militia commander’s house in Darayem district. During the clash, six pro-government militia members, including the commander, were killed, and the Taliban seized their equipment.

May 23 Parwan Province: one civilian killed

A religious scholar was shot dead by unknown armed men in Sayed Khel district. No group has claimed responsibility so far.

May 23 Herat Province: two militia members killed

Two pro-government militia members were killed and one more was wounded by Taliban snipers in Chesht-e-Sharif district. Two Taliban attackers were killed in response and others fled the area.

May 22 Baghlan Province: eight pro-government militia members killed

During a Taliban attack on a security outpost in Gozargah-e-Noor district, eight territorial army soldiers were killed, and 10 others were wounded.

May 22 Helmand Province: three civilians killed

A rocket hit a house in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, killing three children and wounding two others.

May 22 Badghis Province: one soldier killed

The Taliban attacked an army outpost in Qadis district. During two hours of fighting, one soldier was killed.

May 22 Kabul Province: one civilian killed

A former pro-government militia commander from Wardak was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in Kabul’s Fifth Police District.

May 22 Faryab Province: four security forces killed

A Humvee was targeted by a roadside bomb in Almar district. Three soldiers and a pro-government militia member were killed.

May 22 Baghlan Province: two civilians killed

A mortar round fired by the Taliban hit a market in Nahrin district, killing two civilians and wounding four others.

May 22 Jowzjan Province: one militia member killed

A pro-government militia commander was killed by his bodyguard in Aqcha district center. The attacker managed to flee the area.

May 21 Takhar Province: one civilian killed

A Taliban mortar round hit a house in Taliqan, the provincial capital, killing an 8-year-old child and wounding another child and a woman.

May 21 Zabul Province: five police officers killed

During a clash between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Shar-e-Safa district, five police officers were killed.

May 21 Kapisa Province: two militia members killed

Two pro-government militia members were killed and four others were wounded in a Taliban attack in Tagab district.

May 14-20, 2021

At least 40 pro-government forces and 34 civilians were killed in Afghanistan the past week. In Kabul Province, a bomb exploded in a mosque in Shakardara district during Friday prayer, killing 12 civilians, including the imam, and wounding 15 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. In Zabul Province, during a Taliban attack on security checkpoints in Qalat, the provincial capital, six police officers, including a commander, were killed and three others were wounded.

May 20 Herat Province: one police officer killed

Unknown gunmen shot and killed a police officer in the 13th Police District of Herat city, the provincial capital. The shooter managed to escape the scene.

May 20 Logar Province: one police officer killed

A police officer was gunned down and one more was wounded in the Taliban attack in the provincial capital, Pul-e-Alam.

May 20 Jowzjan: one civilian killed

A military prosecutor was killed when a magnetic bomb attached to a private vehicle exploded in the provincial capital, Sheberghan.

May 20 Ghor Province: three civilians killed

Three civilians, including two children, were killed in a roadside bomb blast in the provincial capital, Firoz Koh.

May 19 Zabul Province: six police officers killed

During a Taliban attack on security checkpoints in Qalat, the provincial capital, six police officers, including a commander, were killed and three others were wounded.

May 19 Ghor Province: two civilians killed A roadside bomb went off in Firoz Koh, killing two civilians and wounding one more. May 19 Ghor Province: three civilians killed Three Hazara civilians were killed by the Taliban while they were traveling from Ghor to Herat province in Firoz Koh.

May 19 Helmand Province: one civilian killed

A mortar hit a civilian house in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, killing a civilian. It is unclear who fired the mortar.