When police reinforcements were sent to the aid of those posts, the official said, “the Taliban were using night-vision goggles and the police who were sent were shot by laser-guided weapons against which they could not defend themselves. The police have no night-vision goggles at all.”
The official’s account was corroborated by several other police figures, who also would not comment on the record.
Mr. Hellal, the spokesman, said that officers at only a quarter of the police posts in Kandahar had laser sights on their weapons, and that none of them had night-vision goggles.
Afghan officials said the killings were the latest in a wave of attacks by the Taliban using night-vision goggles, usually with Russian markings. United States forces introduced night-vision technology in Afghanistan, and American trainers have instructed the Afghan Army how to use them to gain an advantage against the Taliban.
Now, the Taliban have apparently managed to obtain the same technology. “Night-vision equipment is used in ambushes by the insurgents and it is very effective,” said Maj. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry. “You can see your enemy, but they cannot see you coming.”
While Afghan soldiers often have night-vision equipment, police officers usually do not.
Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban in the south and west of the country, boasted of the insurgents’ use of the technology. “Usually we are using laser weapons and night visions on night attacks, and we definitely used night visions and laser weapons for that attack as well,” he said, reached by cellphone at an undisclosed location. He appeared to be referring to laser systems used as gunsights.
Two attacks on Afghan National Police units on Oct. 17 killed more than 40 officers, including a police general. Two days later, a powerful car bomb hidden in a captured military vehicle wiped out most of an army unit, killing 49 soldiers.
Back in the western province of Farah, where the previous night ambush took place, the insurgents staged two new attacks that lasted until early Tuesday.
On the outskirts of the provincial capital, Farah city, a police post was attacked, and three police officers killed. And in the Bala Boluk district, the insurgents attempted to capture an Afghan National Army base, killing five soldiers, according to Naser Mehri, the spokesman for the Farah governor. Afghan airstrikes beat back the attack, killing 20 of the insurgents, Mr. Mehri said.
The spokesman’s account was disputed by Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council, who said the insurgents not only captured the Bala Boluk army base, but killed all 15 soldiers stationed there.
The head of the provincial council, Ahmad Farid Bakhtawar, also confirmed Mr. Qani’s account.
“The Farah situation is critical,” Mr. Qani said. “The Taliban are trying to capture the entire province, and they have modern weapons.” He accused neighboring Iran of supporting the insurgents in Farah Province.