Amid rising violence, top US peace broker visits Kabul to meet President Ghani, politicians, civil society leaders
KABUL, Afghanistan (Anadolu) – At least 26 Afghan security forces were killed on Sunday in a deadly Taliban car bombing and multiple armed assaults, while government forces killed 167 insurgents in the past 24 hours, officials confirmed.
The bloodiest of the incidents took place in the northern province of Faryab, where at least 14 security forces including the police chief of Qaisaar district were killed in an overnight Taliban raid.
According to provincial council member Nadir Sayadi, the insurgents seized the district police headquarters and municipality building.
Confirming the 14 deaths, he said that nearly 30 security forces remained surrounded by the attackers.
In the neighboring Balkh province, insurgents staged a deadly car bombing followed by an armed assault on security forces in the district that goes by the same name.
Police spokesman Adi Shah told Anadolu Agency that the attack took place in the afternoon and left at least two security forces killed and several others injured.
Claiming responsibility for the attack, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a series of tweets that “dozens” of security forces were killed in this raid.
Elsewhere, a similar attack was staged in the Shahrak district of central Ghor province. The provincial police command only confirmed the attack via a statement, while the local Salam Afghanistan radio station reported at least 10 security forces losing their lives.
Violence has surged in the war-weary country since the US announced its troops will leave by Sept. 11.
The Defense Ministry on Sunday claimed that government forces killed 167 Taliban terrorists and 59 others in the past 24 hours. It said the operations took place in the provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktika, Daykundi, Zabul, Badghis, Herat, Ghor, Balkh, Jowzjan, Samangan, Baghlan, Badakhshan, and Helmand.
According to Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, more than 250 civilian casualties, allegedly caused by the Taliban, were recorded in May. The insurgents, however, have rejected the government’s claim.
Top US peace broker in country
The US’ top peace broker in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, visited the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday to push for a political settlement to the conflict.
According to the office of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation led a delegation to discuss issues related to bilateral ties and continued political, diplomatic and economic cooperation.
“Recalling the US Government’s $3.3 billion in annual assistance to Afghanistan’s security and defense forces, the US delegation conveyed the message of the US Government in support of the security and defense forces, especially the [Afghan] Air Force and for the economic sector and human rights,” said the statement.
According to the US State Department, Khalilzad and a US inter-agency delegation, including the National Security Council and Department of Defense will meet with Afghan government officials, politicians and women’s group advocates to hear their views on the peace process.
“The delegation will underscore enduring US support for Afghanistan’s development and a political settlement that will end the war. In Doha [Qatar], Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to encourage both sides to make tangible progress towards a political settlement that protects the gains of the last two decades,” the statement said.