At least 57 members of the Afghan security forces were killed and dozens injured in overnight clashes with Taliban fighters across Afghanistan in the bloodiest day of fighting since the government and the armed group began peace talks in Qatar more than a week ago.
Sunday night’s clashes were in the central province of Uruzgan, where 24 members of the Afghan security forces were killed when Taliban fighters attacked security checkpoints, Deputy Governor of the province Sayed Mohammad Sadat said.
Clashes and casualties were also reported in the provinces of Baghlan, Takhar, Helmand, Kapisa, Balkh, Maidan Wardak and Kunduz, provincial officials told Reuters news agency.
In Balkh, the Taliban took hostage three members of Afghanistan’s spy organisation, according to Monir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for Balkh provincial governor.
The Taliban did not confirm casualties on its side, but according to a spokesman for the Pamir military corps, 54 fighters were killed in clashes in Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces.
A spokesman for the provincial government of Maidan Wardak, Muhibullah Sharifzai, said 26 Taliban fighters were killed in clashes there.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said Taliban attacks had killed 98 civilians and injured 230 others in the last two weeks across 24 provinces.
At least 12 civilians were killed on Saturday in air raids on a Taliban base in the northeastern province of Kunduz.
Defence ministry officials said 40 Taliban fighters were killed, but they did not confirm the number of civilian casualties.
Negotiating teams representing the Taliban and the Afghan government have been meeting in the Qatari capital Doha since talks started on September 12, but little headway has been made, particularly on a ceasefire.
The almost daily meetings in Doha have been unable to make it past debating rules and regulations of the process, and the sides remain far apart on most matters.