Herat, January 7: Taliban fighters attacked two checkpoints in western Afghanistan, killing at least 10 members of the security forces and pro-government militia, officials said Monday, in a bloody 24 hours in the war-torn country.
At least 15 militants were killed in the fighting in Qadis and Ab Kamari districts of Badghis province that began late Sunday, provincial governor spokesman Jamshid Shahabi told AFP.
Provincial council chief Abdul Aziz Bek gave a higher death toll of 21 - 14 police and seven militia members - but that figure could not be immediately confirmed by AFP. "The Taliban captured both checkpoints and took all the military equipment and ammunition with them," Bek said. Senior Taliban Commander Killed in U.S. Strike in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
The Taliban, who have been slaughtering Afghan security forces in record numbers, claimed responsibility for both attacks. On the other side of the country in the southeastern province of Paktika, eight civilians were killed and 12 wounded on Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near a market in Janikhail district. Among the dead were two brothers aged 10 and 12, provincial police spokesman Shah Mohammad Aryan told AFP.
A group of children had been trying to remove the explosive device from the ground when it exploded, Aryan said. It was not clear if the bomb had been deliberately planted or was left over from decades of conflict.
Civilians have long borne the brunt of the war, with 8,050 people killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, according to the latest UN figures. The bloodshed comes amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table and ending the 17-year war.
Taliban representatives recently met with Iran, as Tehran makes a more concerted and open push for peace ahead of a possible US drawdown. Other countries, including the United States, Turkey and Russia, are also involved in the drive to bring about peace in Afghanistan.
US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met with the group several times in recent months, but the leaking of President Donald Trump's plan to slash troop numbers in Afghanistan has threatened to derail those efforts.