Afghan Taliban plays havoc upon Military in overnight attacks, dozens of soldiers killed
KUNDUZ: The Taliban killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and policemen in a string of overnight attacks, government officials said on Wednesday, hours after US President Donald Trump said he had a "very good" chat with their political chief.
The militants have ramped up violence against Afghan security forces in recent days, ending a partial truce put in place during the run-up to a landmark US-Taliban withdrawal deal signed in Doha on Saturday.
"Taliban fighters attacked at least three army outposts in Imam Sahib District of Kunduz last night, killing at least 10 soldiers and four police," said Safiullah Amiri, a member of the provincial council.
A defence ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the army toll, while the provincial police spokesman Hejratullah Akbari confirmed the police fatalities.
The insurgents also attacked police in central Uruzgan province Tuesday night, the governor’s spokesman Zergai Ebadi said, "Unfortunately, six police were killed and seven wounded."
The violence has cast a pall on the nascent Afghan peace process, with the insurgents clashing with Kabul over a prisoner exchange ahead of talks that are due to begin on March 10.
On Tuesday Trump told reporters in Washington that he had a "very good" relationship with Taliban political chief Mulla Baradar, with the pair speaking on the phone for 35 minutes, according to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the US launched an airstrike against Taliban fighters to defend Afghan forces, an American military spokesman said. US Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Sonny Leggett tweeted that the airstrike targeted Taliban fighters who were "actively attacking" an Afghan forces checkpoint in Helmand. "This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack," he tweeted.
"We call on the Taliban to stop needless attacks and uphold their commitments. As we have demonstrated, we will defend our partners when required." He said Taliban had carried out 43 attacks on checkpoints in Helmand on Tuesday alone.