Taliban Attacks, Violence Kills Dozens 01/19 06:12

Taliban Attacks, Violence Kills Dozens 01/19 06:12


   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A wave of Taliban attacks and violence has killed 
dozens across Afghanistan, even as talks are underway between the government 
and the insurgents in Qatar, officials said Tuesday.

   A statement from the defense ministry said four army soldiers were killed 
late Monday night in Taliban attacks on checkpoints in Kunduz province.

   According to the ministry, 15 Taliban fighters were also killed and 12 were 
wounded. The details were impossible to independently verify as Kunduz is off 
limits to journalists and the Taliban hold sway across most of the province's 
rural areas.

   However, Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz, gave a 
significantly higher casualty toll. At least 25 members of the security forces 
were killed by the Taliban in separate attacks in the Dasht-e-Archi district, 
including 13 soldiers and four policemen, he said.

   At least eight other soldiers were killed near Kunduz city, the provincial 
capital, he said. Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the insurgents 
were behind all the attacks. The Taliban were able to seize weapons and 
ammunition from the checkpoints, he said.

   Meanwhile, in southern Helmand province, Abdul Zahir Haqyar, administration 
chief in Washer's district, was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on Monday 
night, said Abdul Nabi Elham, the provincial governor of Helmand.

   Two of Haqyar's bodyguards were wounded in the shooting. No one immediately 
claimed responsibility for that attack.

   Separately, in southern Urozgan province, at least 10 people, including 
women and children, were wounded, when a sticky bomb placed on a motorcycle 
exploded, according to the provincial governor, Mohammad Omar Sherzad.

   A private car belonging to police officers was the target of the explosion, 
he said.

   The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in 
the capital of Kabul in recent months, including on educational institutions 
that killed 50 people, most of them students. IS has claimed responsibility for 
rocket attacks in December targeting the major U.S. base in Afghanistan. There 
were no casualties.

   Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed 
peace talks in Qatar, the Gulf Arab state where the insurgents maintain an 
office. The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of conflict. 
Frustration and fear have grown over the recent spike in violence, and both 
sides blame one another.

   There has also been growing doubt lately over a U.S.-Taliban deal brokered 
by the outgoing Trump administration. That accord was signed last February. 
Under the deal, an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops ordered by Trump means 
that just 2,500 American soldiers will still be in Afghanistan when 
President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

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