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Taliban claims killing of US soldier in Afghanistan in latest risk to peace talks

Troops in Afghanistan visited by president Trump [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2019

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A US soldier has been killed in an alleged Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan.
An American soldier has been killed in an attack claimed by the Taliban in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province.

A statement released by US military on Monday did not identify the soldier, or give detailed information about where the attack happened, as per US Department of Defence policy, which states the name of the service member killed in action can be withheld for 24 hours until family is notified.

In a Whatsapp message to AFP, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said fighters “blew up an American vehicle in Chardara district” on Sunday night.

The armed group went on to claim another US solider and an Afghan commando were also wounded in the attack.

The  death adds to an increase in aggression from the Taliban amid crucial peace talks between the militant group and Washington.

Some 20 American troops have been killed in operations in Afghanistan this year– the most to die fighting the militant group since 2014, “when the pentagon euphemistically announced the ‘end of combat operations,” the New York Times reported.

This comes as Iran’s security official last week said the Islamic Republic opposed US negotiations with the Taliban, as talks excluded the people and the government.

"Any strategy, any decision or plan without the participation of the Afghan people is wrong and doomed to failure," said Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

"The Taliban are a reality of the Afghan people that cannot be ignored. But are all Afghans Taliban? No," he added.

Shamkhani was speaking at a news conference following a meeting in Tehran made up of senior national security officials from Afghanistan, China, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

He accused the US of trying to use the situation in Afghanistan to "create insecurity on the borders of China, Russia and Iran" and said the "dialogue on regional security" was proof of Washington's failure to isolate the Islamic Republic.

The attack on the US soldier also comes as Afghanistan’s incumbent president, Ashraf Ghani, won the elections with 50.64 per cent of the vote this week.

Read more: CIA-backed 'death squads' accused of Afghanistan 'war crimes'

Months of political limbo and allegations of fraud and corruption means that the celebrations might be premature, though Ghani beat his top challenger, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, by a large margin.

Addressing the nation in a televised address, he stopped short of declaring himself winner, but called the results a “victory” for all of Afghanistan: “A government worthy of this great nation will be built”.

Abdullah intends to contest the vote and accused the election commission of siding with “fraudsters”.

“The election commission has unfortunately sided with the fraudsters. There is no doubt that we are the winners of the election based on the clean votes of the people”.

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