Taliban militants killed in encounter with security forces

Cheryl Sanders
April 15, 2019

The Arg (presidential palace) said in a statement that the Taliban announced their so-called spring offensives amid intensified efforts by the Afghan government to put a peaceful end to the "imposed war" in the country.

"The Afghan government is ready to defend every corner of the country but it once again calls on the Taliban leadership to stop the illegitimate and imposed war and nod to the unconditional invitation of the Afghan government and people for peace talks", the statement concluded.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said the announcement is "reckless" and reflects the Taliban's "indifference" to the demands of Afghans for peace.

No such drawdown has happened yet and the U.S. still has about 14,000 troops in the country, almost 18 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban.

"Taliban's push to continue war and corruption in Afghanistan is happening at a time that the country's and the world's religious scholars have called Taliban's fight against the people of Afghanistan an "evil", not Jihad", the statement said.

"Our jihadi obligation has not yet ended", the Taliban said.

The Taliban militants on Friday announced the launch of its spring offensive "Al-Fath" on Friday.

The spokesman refrained from revealing casualties on the side of security personnel in the fighting.

"The continuation of war is no one's interest", it said.

Meanwhile, officials in eastern Nangarhar province said security forces had defeated an overnight Taliban twin suicide bomb-and-gun assault on a district governor's compound, killing at least 27 insurgents and wounding many more.

The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the militants have insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".

The Taliban launches its annual offensive in spring aimed at gaining grounds to topple Afghan government.

Afghan security forces have suffered the brunt of losses, with more than 45,000 killed since 2014.

The US envoy held direct talks with Taliban last March in Doha that lasted 13 days.

The Taleban have made gains as moves towards a possible peace deal continued, with government forces in control of just over half the country, according to U.S. estimates.

Omar Zwak, the provincial governor's spokesman, said the attacks had been repelled at the cost of four soldiers and 15 Taliban.

US President Donald Trump was reported previous year to be planning to withdraw about half of the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan, adding pressure to secure a peace agreement with the Taleban to prevent the country collapsing.

Other reports by iNewsToday