Afghan forces killed in attack blamed on Taliban

It is the first deadly attack since a three-day ceasefire announced over the Eid al-Fitr holiday ended on Tuesday.

    A drop in violence due to the truce largely held since it ended on Tuesday night [File: Rahmat Gul/AP]
    A drop in violence due to the truce largely held since it ended on Tuesday night [File: Rahmat Gul/AP]

    At least 14 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in an attack officials blame on the Taliban, the first deadly assault since a three-day ceasefire ended at midnight on Tuesday.

    The fighters attacked a checkpoint in Parwan province north of the capital, Kabul, said Waheeda Shahkar, spokesperson for the provincial governor. "The Taliban have also suffered casualties,"  Shahkar said.

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    District police chief Hussain Shah said Taliban fighters set fire to the checkpoint, killing five security force personnel. Two more were shot dead.

    The Taliban has not commented.

    It is the first attack that Afghan officials have blamed on the Taliban since the end of three-day ceasefire held over the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

    According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, civilian casualties fell by 80 percent during the temporary truce.

    A drop in violence has largely held since it ended on Tuesday night, although Afghan security forces carried out air strikes in the south on Wednesday that killed 18 fighters, police said.

    Taliban prisoners released

    The surprise truce offer from the Taliban and the lull in fighting has raised hopes that stalled peace negotiations between the fighters and the Afghan government could resume soon.

    Afghan authorities have responded to the ceasefire by releasing hundreds of Taliban prisoners this week, and plan to further free an equal number of inmates in the coming days.

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    The Taliban has also said it plans to free a group of government prisoners.

    The exchange is part of a US-Taliban deal signed in February, which excluded the Afghan government, that stipulates Kabul would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would free about 1,000 national security personnel.

    Kabul had already freed about 1,000 Taliban inmates before the ceasefire, while the Taliban had released about 300 government captives.

    SOURCE: News agencies