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29 soldiers killed in Taliban attacks amid Doha talks

KABUL (TOLOnews): At least 29 security force members were killed in clashes in different parts of the country over the last 24 hours amid calls for a nationwide ceasefire and efforts in Doha to begin face-to-face negotiations between delegates from both sides.

The clashes occurred between Afghan security forces and the Taliban in Balkh, Kandahar, Takhar and Kapisa provinces.

At least six army soldiers and three policemen were killed and four others were wounded in a Taliban attack in the northeastern province of Takhar on Sunday night, a security source said.

The attack took place in Naw Abad village of Dasht-e-Qala district in a Taliban attack against security forces, said the source.

“The clashes ended after an hour and the Taliban has also suffered casualties in the clashes but there is no exact information yet,” the source said. Local officials and the Taliban have not yet commented on the attack.

Meanwhile, at least eight security force members were killed in a clash with the Taliban in Tagab district, Kapisa province, sources said. Kapisa police said the clash started after midnight on Sunday and continued until Monday morning.

In the northern province of Balkh, the Taliban attacked an outpost of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Hewad district in the province on Monday morning, the provincial governor’s spokesman Munir Ahmad Farhad said.

Farhad said that five security force members in the outpost were killed and three others were taken captive by the Taliban.

Sources said the clash continued for more than two hours. The Taliban has not commented on the attack.

The Taliban also attacked an Afghan security outpost in Maroof district in the southern province of Kandahar on Sunday evening, killing seven members of the Afghan security forces, according to the provincial police spokesman Jamal Barikzai.

He said the Taliban also suffered casualties in the attack. But he did not clarify the numbers.

The increase in violence comes amid efforts by the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha to start direct talks with the Taliban. The two sides have held six small group meetings over the last nine days.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a tweet early on Monday said “over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan” and that “this escalation is regrettable as Afghans, including many civilians, are losing their lives.”

He called on all sides to reduce violence.

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