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Nearly 300 Afghan Security Forces Killed Over Past Week, Official Says


Afghan army soldiers stand behind the Taliban motorcycles they have captured in the southeastern province of Paktia.

KABUL – A top Afghan government official has accused the Taliban of unleashing a wave of attacks ahead of potential talks between the warring sides, saying the insurgents had killed 291 local security personnel and wounded 550 others over the past week.

“The past week was the deadliest” in Afghanistan's 18-year war, Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, tweeted on June 22, adding that the Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces.

“Taliban's commitment to reduce violence is meaningless, and their actions inconsistent with their rhetoric on peace,” Faisal also wrote.

A Taliban spokesman rejected the latest government figures, saying “the enemy aims to hurt the peace process and intra-Afghan talks by releasing such false reports."

The militant group launched “some attacks last week, but they were mostly in defense," Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

Violence in Afghanistan had dropped after the Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire that ended on May 26 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but officials have accused the militants of stepping up attacks in recent weeks.

Kabul and Taliban have signaled they were getting closer to launching much-delayed talks aimed at putting an end to the Afghan conflict.

Earlier this month, President Ashraf Ghani vowed to complete a Taliban prisoner release to pave the way for the negotiations.

The government said it had so far released 3,000 Taliban prisoners and vowed to free another 2,000.

The insurgents have released 500 prisoners they were holding.

With reporting by AFP

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