Taliban attacks kill more than 20 Afghan security forces

In fresh wave of violence, Taliban kills security forces in country's north, underscoring group's strengthened position.

    The latest attacks came as the US and Taliban were discussing a possible reduction in violence [Omar Sobhani/Reuters]
    The latest attacks came as the US and Taliban were discussing a possible reduction in violence [Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

    In a new wave of attacks, the Taliban targeted Afghan security forces in the country's north, killing at least 23, local officials said.

    The assaults hit checkpoints in at least three northern provinces.

    In Kunduz, at least 10 Afghan forces were killed and four others were wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in the district of Dashti Archi on Tuesday night, according to Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council.

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    In Balkh province, the Taliban killed nine police officers in an attack on their checkpoint.

    The condition of four other policemen who were at the checkpoint was unknown, said Mohammad Afzel Hadid, head of the provincial council.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed the fighters in the Balkh attack had infiltrated police ranks a while back and were waiting for a chance to strike.

    In a third attack on Tuesday night, seven members of the security forces in Takhar province and 10 Taliban fighters died in a gunfight, according to Jawad Hajri, the provincial governor's spokesman.

    Afghan locals take up arms against Taliban

    The attack took place in Darqad district after the security forces had successfully cleared the Taliban from several other districts in the past week, said Hajri.

    Fighting was still under way there on Wednesday, he added.

    The Taliban has stepped up its attacks in northern Afghanistan in recent days.

    It struck a pro-government militia compound in Jawzjan province before dawn on Monday, killing 14 members of the security forces.

    A similar militia compound was targeted in Takhar on Sunday, when at least 17 militiamen were killed.

    On Friday, at least 10 Afghan soldiers died in a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in southern Helmand province.

    The latest attacks underscore the Taliban's strengthened position in an 18-year war, the US's longest conflict, even as their leadership, based in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar, has been negotiating with a US envoy.

    Washington has demanded a ceasefire before any peace agreement can be signed.

    The fighting has shown no signs of abating. US air strikes and operations by Afghan security forces over the past two days killed 35 Taliban fighters in offensives across the country, including an air strike in Kandahar province that killed 11 Taliban fighters, the US military said.

    Several Taliban were also detained, the US military added.

    SOURCE: News agencies