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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Taliban killed 291 Afghan security personnel in past week: govt

The Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces in the past week. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 June, 2020

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The past week was the "deadliest" in the country's 19 years of conflict.

The Taliban killed at least 291 Afghan security personnel over the past week, a top government official said Monday, accusing the insurgents of unleashing a wave of violence ahead of potential talks.

The past week was the "deadliest" in the country's 19 years of conflict, said Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, even as the insurgents dismissed the latest figures.

The Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces in the past week, killing 291 security force personnel and wounding 550 others, Faisal said on Twitter.

"Taliban's commitment to reduce violence is meaningless, and their actions inconsistent with their rhetoric on peace," he said.

The Taliban rejected the latest government figures.

"The enemy aims to hurt the peace process and intra-Afghan talks by releasing such false reports," Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesman in Afghanistan, told AFP.

"We did have some attacks last week, but they were mostly in defence."

In a cabinet meeting on Monday, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the violence which he blamed on the Taliban.

The government sees the violence "as running against the spirit of commitment for peace", Ghani said.

In an attack on Monday, gunmen shot dead two prosecutors and three other employees of the attorney general's office.

The attack happened on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, when gunmen opened fire on the car in which they were travelling, the attorney general's office and the interior ministry said.

It was unclear who the attackers were, and the Taliban denied they were involved.

Violence had dropped across much of Afghanistan since the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire on May 24 to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, but officials have accused the insurgents of stepping up attacks in recent weeks.

The latest government accusations come as Kabul and Taliban have signalled that they were getting closer to launching much-delayed peace talks.

Ghani has vowed to complete a Taliban prisoner release that is a key condition to beginning the peace negotiations with the insurgents aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.

The authorities have already released about 3,000 Taliban prisoners, and plan to further free 2,000 as stipulated in the insurgents' deal with Washington signed in February.

The Taliban have said they are ready for peace talks but only after the release of the remaining 2,000 insurgents.

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