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Taliban Fighters Attack Kunduz Outskirts, Violence in Kabul, Day After Spring Offensive Announced

FILE: An Afghan security soldier overlooking a battle with the Taliban fighters in Kunduz.
FILE: An Afghan security soldier overlooking a battle with the Taliban fighters in Kunduz.

Taliban fighters attacked the outskirts of a northern Afghan city and bomb blasts were reported in the capital, Kabul, a day after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive.

The violence on April 13 comes as the United States continues to push for a peace settlement with the Taliban, with a new round of talks scheduled later this month in Qatar.

In the city of Kunduz, Naeem Mangal, head of the regional hospital, told the AFP news agency that at least eight people were killed and 62 wounded in fighting on the city’s limits.

In Kabul, meanwhile, a central police station came under attack when two hand grenades were thrown at a military vehicle -- the first major incident of its kind in weeks.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said at least one person was killed and six others wounded. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

In the western province of Ghor, at least seven members of Afghan security forces were killed in a Taliban ambush, the provincial governor's spokesman, Abdul Hai Khatibi, said.

And a truck bomb attack was reported in eastern Nangarhar province late on April 12. A spokesman for the provincial governor, Ataullah Khogyani, said two Afghan troops had been killed, along with 27 Taliban fighters.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though fighting nowadays continues unabated throughout the year.

In a statement released in five languages on April 12, the Taliban said the fighting would continue while foreign forces remain in Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy who is spearheading Washington’s push for a peace settlement, called the Taliban announcement "reckless.”

The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, calling the government a "puppet" of the West.

Based on reporting by AFP