15 Security Forces Killed Across Three Afghan Provinces

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At least 15 security forces were killed across three Afghan provinces, officials said on Saturday, as violence keeps the country in its grasp, and the start of peace talks remains delayed.

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At least nine security forces were killed, another wounded, when the Taliban’s special forces unit attacked a checkpoint in the northern Takhar province, the police chief spokesman for the province said.

Taliban attacks in the north-eastern province of Badakhshan also left four security forces dead, that province’s spokesman said.

Two magnetic bomb explosions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killed one and wounded at least four people, including a civilian, the city’s police spokesman said.

The city has recently seen a surge in sticky bomb explosions, which were regularly being attached to security forces’ vehicles.

Amid the bloody violence, the Taliban in a statement said that the embattled country’s complete independence was very close.

A delay in the prisoners’ release programme has blocked the beginning of highly expected intra-Afghan peace talks.

The Taliban repeatedly said they will not enter into peace talks with the Afghan government until their remaining 320 prisoners are freed.

The government has already released 4,680 Taliban prisoners, while the militants say they have kept their side of the deal with the U.S. by releasing 1,000 pro-government prisoners.

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