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Afghans Say Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 17 Military Personnel In Northern Provinces

KABUL -- Afghan officials say Taliban fighters have attacked a checkpoint in the northern province of Jawzjan, killing 12 security force members.

Abdul Marouf Azar, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said on June 17 that five others were wounded in the attack that occurred at dawn in the Aqcha district.

The militants have taken four soldiers hostage following the attack, Azar said, adding that the militants also suffered casualties.

"Five Taliban were also killed and 10 others were wounded in the clashes," he said.

The Defense Ministry confirmed the attack and said six of its soldiers were among the dead.

A Taliban spokesman said the group was responsible for the attack, but he said the death toll was higher, though he did not elaborate.

In another northern province, Kunduz, militants attacked an Afghan National Army checkpoint on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Kunduz city, killing five soldiers, according to the provincial police chief, Faqir Muhammad Jawzjani.

At least seven others were wounded in the incident, he added.

Meanwhile, the explosion of a mortar shell in the southeastern province of Ghazni left four children dead, while wounding three others, the provincial governor's spokesman, Arif Noori, said.

The children found the shell in the Deh Yak district and started playing with it when it went off, Noori said.

The government has said that in recent weeks some 422 Afghan personnel have been killed or wounded across the country in at least 220 Taliban attacks.

The Taliban says it remains committed to an agreement they signed with the United States in February.

The landmark deal provides for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and is intended to pave the way for peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

With reporting by dpa and AFP
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