KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban launched a series of attacks on security checkpoints in four Afghan provinces early on Thursday, killing 32 members of the security forces and pro-government militias, provincial officials said.
Both sides in Afghanistan’s 17-year war have kept up attacks this winter, with the Taliban inflicting a heavy toll on government forces, and the U.S. military and their government allies killing Taliban field commanders with air strikes.
At the same time, tentative peace efforts have been under with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad holding three rounds of talks with the Taliban, although the insurgents called off a fourth round this week.
The latest Taliban attacks came in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar, and Badghis in the west.
Ahmad Fahim Qarluq, the chief of the Qala-e-Zal district in Kunduz, said a large number of Taliban attacked security checkpoints in the early hours, killing 10 soldiers and police and wounding 11.
Qarluq said 25 Taliban fighters were killed.
In neighbouring Baghlan and Takhar provinces, the Taliban killed 16 members of pro-government militias in attacks on outposts, officials said.
They also said the Taliban suffered heavy casualties.
To the west, in Badghis province, Jamshid Shahabi, spokesman for the governor, said six members of the security forces were killed and 10 wounded in clashes.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said in statement that the militants had killed dozens of members of the security forces and captured a large number of weapon and ammunition.
(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul, Sardar Razmal in Kudnuz, Jalil Rezayee and Storay Karimi in Heart; Writing by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by Robert Birsel)