Dozens killed in bloodiest Afghanistan clashes since peace talks began

Members of the Afghan security force take part in an operation in Jawzjan province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2019. Fighting rages across the war-torn country and clashes between security forces and Taliban have been continuing since early April when the Taliban launched an annual rebel offensive.

At least 57 members of the Afghan security forces were killed and dozens injured in overnight clashes with Taliban militants across Afghanistan, security officials said on Monday, in the bloodiest day of fighting since government and insurgent forces began peace talks in Doha over a week ago.

Negotiating teams representing the Taliban and the Afghan government have been meeting in the Qatari capital since talks started on Sept. 12. But little headway has been made, particularly on a ceasefire, which many international capitals have called for but which the insurgent group has rejected.

Sunday night’s bloodiest clashes were in the central province of Uruzgan, where 24 members of the Afghan security forces were killed when Taliban militants attacked security checkpoints, Deputy Governor of the province Sayed Mohammad Sadat said.

Clashes and casualties were also reported in the provinces of Takhar, Helmand, Kapisa, Balkh, Maidan Wardak and Kunduz, provincial officials told us.

In Balkh, the Taliban took hostage three members of Afghanistan’s spy organisation, the National Directorate of Security, according to Monir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for Balkh provincial governor.

The Taliban did not confirm casualties on their side, but according to a spokesman for the Pamir military corps, Abdul Hadi Jamal, 54 of the insurgents were killed in clashes in Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces on Sunday night.

A spokesman for the provincial government of Maidan Wardak, Muhibullah Sharifzai, said 26 Taliban militants were killed in clashes there.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said Taliban attacks had killed 98 civilians and injured 230 others in the last two weeks across 24 provinces.

At least 12 civilians were killed on Saturday in airstrikes on a Taliban base in the northeastern province of Kunduz. Defence ministry officials said 40 Taliban militants were killed, but they did not confirm civilian casualties.

Despite international pressure, particularly from Washington, the Taliban continue to reject a ceasefire until the two sides reach an agreement.

The almost daily meetings in Doha have been unable to make it past debating rules and regulations of the process, and the sides remain far apart on most matters.

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