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Attack in central Afghanistan kills seven police officers

13 Jun 2020 TRT World

Afghan officials blame Taliban for storming a checkpoint in Pasaband district of Ghor province. But the insurgent group hasn't claimed or denied responsibility for the raid.

Policemen inspect at the gate of a mosque after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 12, 2020, killed four worshippers. (Reuters Archive)

Seven police officers were killed when their checkpoint was attacked in central Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday, blaming the Taliban for the assault.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which came hours after four people were killed in a blast at a mosque in Kabul during Friday prayers. 

The attack happened late on Friday in Pasaband district of Ghor province, said district police chief Fakhruddin, who goes by one name.

"They killed seven police officers and wounded one. One policemen is missing," he said, adding that the suspected Taliban attackers had seized guns and ammunition.

The attack was confirmed by the deputy governor of Ghor, Habibullah Radmanish, who also blamed the insurgent group.

Drop in violence

The latest bloodshed comes as the Taliban and the Afghan government appear to move closer towards potential peace negotiations.

The much-delayed talks aimed at ending the conflict are expected to begin once the two sides complete an ongoing prisoner swap, accelerated after a brief ceasefire last month.

Read more: Four worshippers killed in Kabul mosque blast

The rare truce to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday has been followed by an overall drop in violence across the country, though authorities have blamed the Taliban for a number of attacks in recent weeks.

"While the government has continued to advance the cause of peace, the Taliban continued their campaign of violence against the Afghan people during Eid and the weeks after that," Javid Faisal, spokesman of the National Security Council tweeted on Saturday.

"In the last two weeks, they killed 89 civilians and wounded 150 across 29 provinces."

A Taliban spokesperson denied the government claims. 

"We reject this propaganda. Mujahideen (Taliban fighters) do not target civilians anywhere, nor has such a thing happened."

Taliban-US deal

The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since February, when they signed a deal with the US meant to pave the way for peace talks with the Kabul government.

A key concession Washington extracted from the Taliban during negotiations was the requirement to begin peace talks with Kabul.

In return, the Afghan government must release 5,000 insurgent inmates while the Taliban pledged to free 1,000 security force prisoners.

Boost to insurgent numbers

Since the swap started, Afghan authorities have freed 3,000 Taliban inmates while the insurgents have released more than 750 government prisoners, officials said.

It could represent a boost of up to 10 percent for the Taliban, with estimates on the number of insurgents ranging between 50,000 and 100,000.

Afghan security officials said the US did not consult them before Washington and the Taliban finalised the prisoner swap.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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