Afghan officials: Taliban attack on army checkpoint kills 6
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban attacked an Afghan army checkpoint in eastern Laghman province, killing six soldiers and wounding five, the government said Monday.
The insurgents claimed responsibility for the assault, which took place on Sunday night, just days after U.S. special envoy in new talks with the Taliban in Qatar reemphasized the need for a reduction in violence.
The statement from the Afghan Defense Ministry said the troops pushed back the attackers, adding that the Taliban also suffered casualties but without providing specific figures.
Last week, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in Doha, the capital of the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office. He stressed the need for a cease-fire, and after Doha, Khalilzad also visited Islamabad and New Delhi to discuss the Afghan peace process with Pakistani and Indian officials.
On Monday, four bombs, one placed under a garbage bin and the other three by the roadside, went off in northern Kabul, wounding four civilians, including a child, Afghan officials said.
The roadside bombs were spaced within 10-20 meters (yards) of one another, said Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz. The wounded child is a 12-year-old girl, he said and added that the police are searching the area where the bombs struck.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings and their targets remained unknown. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in Kabul and its surroundings and both frequently target the military and civilians.
Kabul has witnessed several low-scale attacks over the past seven days, including explosions from two hand grenades on Sunday night in the western part of Kabul. There were no casualties in that attack, according to Tariq Arian, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
Last Thursday, a rocket targeted a power station and two roadside bombs went off in different areas of Kabul, also causing no casualties. No one has claimed responsibility for those attacks.
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire on civilians in eastern Paktia province, killing three worshipers who were returning home after evening prayers, said provincial governor spokesman Abdullah Hasrat. There was no claim of responsibility and Hasrat said an investigation was underway.
Meanwhile, an exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban has continued under a deal signed in February between the U.S. and the Taliban in Qatar. The deal stipulates that the government free 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the insurgents are to release 1,000 captives, an exchange that is expected to lead to intra-Afghan negotiations.
The exchange has come in stages and so far, and the government in Kabul says it has freed 1,000 Taliban prisoners. The insurgents have confirmed the release of 300 Taliban members.
For their part, the Taliban say they have freed 225 of captives held by the insurgents, including Afghan defense and security personnel members. The Afghan government on Monday confirmed the release of 171 people held by the Taliban, including 105 members of the defense and security forces.