KABUL: Taliban fighters killed more than 20 Afghan security forces in simultaneous raids on a provincial capital and district in northern Afghanistan, an official said on Tuesday, as the city braced for further violence.
Hundreds of militants were outside Sar-e-Pul city, which provincial governor spokesman Zabihullah Amani said was at risk of falling to the Taliban if reinforcements were not sent.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces across the country, slaughtering police and soldiers in record numbers, as the threat of a US drawdown complicates American-led efforts to end the 17-year conflict.
Taliban fighters launched the attacks on Sar-e-Pul and Sayad district on Monday night, which Amani said were aimed at seizing control of several oil wells on the outskirts of the city.
At least 21 local forces, including police and intelligence, were killed and another 23 wounded in the attacks, Amani said.
Kabul-based interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed there had been casualties, but would not provide details.
The Taliban confirmed the attacks, saying their fighters had captured three checkpoints and killed or wounded 50 members of the security forces.
Discuss ‘post-occupation’ with Iran
The Taliban discussed Afghanistan’s “post-occupation situation” with Iran in their latest meeting, the group said on Tuesday, as Tehran makes a more concerted and open push for peace ahead of a possible US drawdown.
The remarks come after Iran confirmed on Monday that the Taliban had visited Tehran for a second round of talks in just a few days that are aimed at ending the 17-year conflict.
The Taliban delegation discussed with Iran “the post-occupation situation, restoration of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region”, the militants said in a statement posted on social media and emailed to journalists.
There have been reports in the past of talks between Iran and the Taliban, but they have typically been denied by Tehran.
Iran’s deputy foreign ministry Abbas Araghchi will travel to Afghanistan in the next two weeks, the foreign ministry said, without giving further details.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2019