Taliban kills dozens of Afghan forces as peace efforts continue
|AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES 10 Jan 2019|
Afghan and Pakistani officials talk about peace as Taliban offensives continue in Afghanistan.
A series of Taliban attacks in western and northern Afghanistan has killed 21 members of the country’s security forces, Afghan officials say.
Jamshed Shahabi, spokesperson for the governor in western Badghis province, said the fighters overran outposts there, killing six policemen on Wednesday.
Council member Shamsul Haq Baeakzai in northern Baghlan province said seven members of the local police force were killed there on the same day.
In northern Takhar province, council member Ruhollah Raufi said eight policemen were shot.
The Taliban also attacked security checkpoints in Kunduz province, killing soldiers and police.
The attacks wounded dozens of other members of the security forces. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for these attacks.
The Taliban fighters have carried out near-daily attacks on Afghan troops, inflicting heavy losses. In response, the government in Kabul no longer releases official casualty figures.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in November that 28,589 Afghan security personnel, both police and army, had been killed in fighting since 2015.
Meanwhile, Pakistani and Afghan officials are meeting in Islamabad to discuss Taliban peace negotiations.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has also been trying to restart a peace process with the Taliban. He is on his fourth trip to the region since being appointed in September. He will visit India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Russia and Iran have all been involved in engaging with the Taliban in recent months either with the US or in parallel processes.
Several senior Taliban leaders are in Doha, Qatar. There were reports on Wednesday that talks in Doha between the Taliban and the US were cancelled over “agenda differences”.
However, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, tweeted: “Reports of US-Taliban talks Wednesday inaccurate. Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media.”
The Taliban has repeatedly refused to meet the Afghan government. In December the Taliban held meetings with Iranian officials and in November attended a meeting in Moscow where a non-governmental Afghan delegation was present.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on a visit to India that Iran has had intelligence contacts with the Taliban because it needed to secure border areas controlled by the Taliban on the Afghan side.
“I think it would be impossible to have a future Afghanistan without any role for the Taliban,” Zarif, who is in New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders, told NDTV in an interview. “But we also believe that the Taliban should not have a dominant role in Afghanistan.”