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Nine Afghan Soldiers Killed As Negotiations Between Government, Taliban Continue

Afghans attend a rally in Herat to support the Doha peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government on September 21.

At least nine Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack late on September 20 despite ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

Taliban militants killed the nine soldiers during the night in the northern province of Takhar, security officials said.

The attack took place in the Naw Abad village of the Dasht-e-Qala district, a source told Tolo news agency.

“The clashes ended after an hour and the Taliban has also suffered casualties in the clashes but there is no exact information yet,” the source said.

The attack came as both sides are holding peace talks in the Gulf state of Qatar.

The talks, part of a February agreement between the Taliban and Washington, began on September 12 following a lengthy dispute over prisoner swaps.

Negotiators are due to discuss the cease-fire, the rights of women and minorities, and the disarming of tens of thousands of Taliban fighters and militias loyal to warlords, some of them aligned with the government.

Despite the talks, attacks have continued on a regular basis, claiming numerous victims, including civilians, as the militants have refused to declare a cease-fire.

The U.S. envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who orchestrated the talks, called the escalation regrettable.

“Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad tweeted.

The Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, called on the Taliban to accept a cease-fire.

“Our homeland has been burning in war and conflict for more than 40 years and many lives have been lost in this endless war,” Abdullah said in a statement.

Based on reporting by dpa and
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