14 Afghan security forces killed as violence grips country

Captured Taliban insurgents are presented to the media after being detained with car explosive devices in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, December 10, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 September 2020

14 Afghan security forces killed as violence grips country

  • Taliban fighters launched an overnight assault late Sunday on several Afghan security force positions in the southern province of Uruzgan
  • The battle comes as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting in Doha, where they are trying to find a way to end 19 years of war

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: At least 14 Afghan soldiers and police were killed during intense fighting with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, officials said Monday, as unabated violence gripped the country despite ongoing peace talks.
Taliban fighters launched an overnight assault late Sunday on several Afghan security force positions in the southern province of Uruzgan, inflicting a heavy toll that left Afghan troops vulnerable to being overrun.
The government-controlled district of Gizab also risked falling into insurgent hands, officials said.
“Intense fighting is ongoing. Our forces have retreated from several outposts,” Zelgai Ebadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP.
Officials said 14 Afghan security forces had been killed and more than a dozen more wounded.
“The fighting is now close to police headquarters. We need more reinforcements,” said Amir Mohammad Barekzai, head of the Uruzgan provincial council.
The battle comes as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting in Doha, where they are trying to find a way to end 19 years of war.
A hopeful start to the talks more than a week ago was immediately marred by fresh violence across Afghanistan, and negotiators have made little tangible progress.
On Saturday in the northeastern province of Kunduz, the Afghan air force conducted multiple strikes on Taliban positions that killed more than 30 insurgent fighters, military officials said.
However, local officials on Monday said the strikes killed at least 17 civilians.
Esmatullah Muradi, spokesman for the Kunduz provincial governor, said the civilians died as they gathered at the site of an initial strike against the Taliban.
“Based on our initial investigation, 17 civilians were also killed and 15 more injured in the second air strike,” Muradi told AFP, saying an “unknown number” of militants had been killed.
The defense ministry has not confirmed any civilian casualties and said it was investigating the case.
The interior ministry meanwhile said the Taliban had killed 98 civilians and wounded 230 more over the past two weeks in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, at least one person was killed and three more injured Monday in three separate explosions caused by so-called sticky bombs — homemade devices attached to vehicles with magnets that are regularly used to target security forces.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Speaking in Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani however appeared hopeful about peace talks.
“Peace is not possible without compromise,” he told a gathering to mark International Peace Day.
“Peace talks are like playing chess. Be patient,” he said.


Pakistan influence over Taliban can help, envoy says

Updated 6 min 9 sec ago

Pakistan influence over Taliban can help, envoy says

  • Progress of talks has been slow and rising violence has sapped trust

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Pakistan Mohammed Umer Daudzai said on Wednesday that Pakistan should use its influence over the Taliban to help break a deadlock in peace talks between the insurgent group and Kabul, but warned that Islamabad should push the Taliban to support democracy.
Talks between an Afghan government delegation and the Taliban have been ongoing in Doha since mid-September, but progress has been slow and rising violence has sapped trust.
According to the UN, nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents rages on despite efforts to find peace.
The peace talks follow a deal in February between the USs and the Taliban that will pave the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, who agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with Kabul.
“We are pleased at the agreement between the Taliban and the US; it has proved that Pakistan has influence on the Taliban,” Daudzai told Arab News.
“Since they have influence, so they should also help us. This is our expectation. Pakistan has not refused to help us. They have also not denied their influence (on the Taliban).”
Neighboring Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan has for years been ambiguous — it is a US ally but is also accused of supporting the Taliban as its proxy in Afghanistan, part of its wider jockeying with regional rival India. Islamabad denies this. It also insists its influence with the Taliban has waned over the years.
“Pakistani leaders know our position as what do we want, what do we expect from them. But when and how will they do that is up to them.
But we want urgent actions,” Daudzai said, adding that the Afghan government expected Pakistan to support democracy in Afghanistan.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan would hold “detailed discussions” on the peace process with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani when they met in Kabul later this year.