Taliban kills 9 soldiers in overnight attack in eastern Afghanistan
Kabul, Apr 16 (efe-epa).- The Taliban carried out an overnight attack on the Afghan security forces, killing at least nine soldiers, in the eastern Logar province, official sources reported Thursday.
The attack was carried out by scores of insurgents against army check-posts in the Charkh district, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“In this attack, unfortunately nine member of the National Army martyred” the ministry said, adding that the Taliban had suffered “heavy casualties” and been pushed back, without giving an exact figure.
Taliban attacks across the country have progressively increased over the past six weeks, following a reduction in violence towards the end of February that paved way for the US-Taliban peace agreement.
The peace deal, signed in the Qatari capital of Doha on Feb.29, included an agreement for the release of some 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces.
The prisoner exchange deal was supposed to serve as a precursor to the commencement of intra-Afghan talks to usher in peace in the country after nearly 20 years.
However, the process was affected by a disagreement between the insurgents and the government, leading to the Taliban negotiating team pulling out of the prisoner exchange talks earlier this month.
Although both sides have unilaterally released some prisoners in an attempt to adhere to the Doha agreement, violence has continued unabated in the country, resulting in civilian casualties.
According to National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal, between Apr.5 -11, at least 30 civilians were killed across nine provinces in insurgent attacks, mostly in the form of roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The most recent attack in Logar came amid repeated calls from the Afghan government over the past one month for a temporary ceasefire so that officials and security forces could focus on efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus infections in the country.
“I call on the Taliban to give positive response to the call of the United Nations, regional countries and government and people of Afghanistan and stop the war and do (announce) a ceasefire,” President Ashraf Ghani said in an address to the nation regarding the measures against COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The highly contagious coronavirus outbreak has so far infected 840 people across the country, most of them in the capital city of Kabul and the western Herat province.
Of the 840 cases, 30 have lost their lives, while 54 patients have recovered. EFE-EPA