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More Than A Dozen Afghan Officers, Scores Of Taliban Militants Killed As Violence Escalates

Over a dozen Afghan security personnel and scores of Taliban militants have been killed in attacks across the country as violence continues to surge despite an initial peace deal.

Afghan officials said at least 45 Taliban militants, including several commanders, were killed in an air strike in the western province of Herat on July 22.

Abdul Ali Faqiryar, the governor of Herat’s Adraskan district, said the air strike targeted a gathering of Taliban fighters.

The Taliban said in a statement that people had gathered to welcome a Taliban prisoner who was recently released by the government. The militants said eight civilians were among those killed.

It was unclear if the air strike was conducted by Afghan or NATO forces.

Hours earlier, eight Afghan security personnel, including three senior security officials, were killed by a roadside bomb in the southern province of Uruzgan.

The security officers were on their way from an army base in the Khas Uruzgan district of Urozgan Province to the local police headquarters on July 22 when their Humvee tank hit a roadside bomb, provincial authorities told RFE/RL.

District police chief Dad Gul, a commander of local police in Khas Uruzgan, and a senior officer of the Afghan National Army were among those killed, Khan Mohammad, a commander at the district base, told RFE/RL. Several other officers were injured.

The Taliban has controlled the roads leading to the area for more than eight years and has been carrying out large-scale operations. The Afghan forces stationed there are often supplied by air as the roads are too dangerous.

Mohammad said that dozens of Taliban fighters had gathered from neighboring districts and were planning a massive attack on the district's headquarters. The spokesperson for the provincial governor Zargai Ebadi said that they would send more security forces to the area in the coming days to boost support.

Elsewhere, the provincial police chief of the southern province of Kandahar said on July 22 that Taliban militants stormed several security checkpoints in the Takht-e Pol district overnight, killing at least seven government personnel.

The July 22 attack is the latest against Afghan forces since a peace deal was signed five months ago. More than a dozen Afghan forces were killed on July 20 in separate attacks.

A framework deal signed by the Taliban and the United States in February calls for direct negotiations between the militant group and the Western-backed government in Kabul aimed at putting an end to the nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and government forces have been exchanging accusations over a recent surge in attacks across Afghanistan -- even as efforts continue to try and bring about the start of direct peace talks between Kabul and the militants.

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