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Taliban attack kills 10 pro-government militiamen in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Afghan security force personnel holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) near the site of a car bomb attack in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, on January 30, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Taliban militants in Afghanistan have killed at least 10 pro-government militia members in the country’s restive, northeastern province of Kunduz, local officials say.

Kunduz Governor Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal told AFP on Friday that the casualties occurred when the Taliban attacked a checkpoint overnight.

“Their attack was repelled initially, but the militiamen were attacked again by Taliban fighters, which led to intense fighting,” Mirzakwal said. “Unfortunately, 10 uprising forces (pro-government militiamen) were killed.”

Amruddin Wali, a member of the Kunduz Provincial Council, also confirmed the attack, but said at least 15 militiamen had been killed.

Kunduz has seen regular clashes between the militants and government forces. The province has briefly fallen to the militants twice in recent years.

Separately on Friday, 62 Taliban militants were killed and 20 others injured in clashes with Afghan government forces in the southern province of Kandahar.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that the militants had gathered to attack checkpoints in the districts of Arghandab and Panjwai, but were targeted by Afghan security forces, according to a report by IRNA.

Local Afghan media also reported that 16 Afghan government forces had been killed in clashes with Taliban militants in Kunduz and six others in the restive Faryab Province.

The latest attacks come even as the Afghan government and the Taliban have been holding direct talks since September last year to end fighting.

The intra-Afghan talks started after the United States agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in a phased manner in exchange for the Taliban’s halting of their attacks on international forces under a deal reached in February 2020.

The deal was intended to result in the reduction of bloodshed, but violence has risen in the country. The Taliban have denied responsibility for the renewed violence, but Afghan and US officials have pinned the blame on the group.

The administration of newly-elected US President Joe Biden has said it would review the peace deal reached with the militants last year.

The US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the banner of fighting “terrorism.” The invasion toppled a Taliban regime, but the group never stopped its attacks.

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