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Battles Intensify Amid Efforts For Peace

17 Mar 2019 Tolo News

As the new war season inches closer, battles have intensified between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in different parts of the country at a time that the group just wrapped up 16-day talks with US negotiators to find a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. 

Heavy battles were reported in the past two days in southern and western parts of the country which inflicted casualties to both sides. 

Badghis has been a volatile province in the northwest of the country over the past 10 days after a group of Taliban attacked government forces outposts in Bala Murghab district in the province – which shares border with Turkmenistan.

Officials said on Saturday that more than a dozen security force members left their bases in Murichaq area in Badghis’s Bala Murghab district and fled to the bordering areas between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

Around 20 Afghan soldiers were killed in Bala Murghab clashes, security officials said, adding that Taliban also suffered heavy fatalities. 

Zmarai Faizi, Commander of 207 Zafar Military Corps, said at least 50 Taliban fighters were killed in airstrikes carried out by the Afghan Air Force. 

Footage released by Ministry of Defense shows Afghan Air Force targeting a Taliban hideout in Bala Murghab district on Friday night.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs said comprehensive plans are underway to address security challenges. 

“The new leadership of the Interior Ministry has effective and comprehensive plans on law enforcement, fighting crimes, fighting intoxicants and fighting terror,” said Nusrat Rahimi, a spokesman for Ministry of Interior Affairs. 

Civilian Casualties

Some residents of Zurmat district in Paktia province, who took bodies of five civilians to the provincial capital on Saturday, said the civilians were killed on in an Afghan forces operation in the district on Friday night.

“Last night at around 10 pm, they came and conducted the attack,” said Timor, a resident of Zurmat.

“The victims were working on their agricultural lands and everyone knows this,” said Rasul Khan, a Zurmat resident. 

In the northern Kunduz province, some people gathered in Kunduz city and called on warring parties to announce a ceasefire. 

Kunduz city has fallen to militants twice in the last four years. 

“We want both sides to announce a ceasefire,” said Sayed Parwiz, a Kunduz resident. 

“We are tired of war. We do not want to people to be killed, and we do not want our sons to become orphans or wives to become widows,” said Shirzai, a Kunduz resident. 

This comes as President Ashraf Ghani last week ordered strict measures to Afghan forces for preventing civilian casualties in their operations.

Original Link: https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/battles-intensify-amid-efforts-peace

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