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Taliban Militants Kill 15 Government Soldiers In Attacks In Western Afghanistan

An Afghan soldier stands guard as soldiers prepare for an operation to recapture a military base from the Taliban in Ghazni Province on May 2.

At least 15 Afghan government soldiers have been killed in Taliban attacks in two provinces as violence continues to rise while negotiations between the two sides aimed at ending a 20-year conflict stall.

Taj Mohammad Jahid, the governor of the western province of Farah, said on May 3 that at least seven soldiers were killed in an attack on May 2 on an army checkpoint.

According to several officials, the militants blew up an outpost in a village in the district of Bala Buluk after laying explosives underground in a tunnel they had dug from a nearby house.

The Taliban claimed the attack, saying it seized weapons from the outpost.

In the Farsi district of the northwestern province of Herat, more than 100 Taliban fighters launched an attack overnight after detonating two car bombs, officials said.

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A security official in the district, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said eight members of the security forces were killed and four others were wounded during the clashes.

The latest violence came as U.S. military formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from the war-torn country on May 1.

On May 2, the Afghan Defense Ministry said that more than 100 militants were killed and more than 50 were wounded in fighting during the previous two days, without giving details of any casualties suffered by government forces.

The U.S. military on May 2 handed over Camp Antonik in the southern province of Helmand to Afghan forces. Camp Antonik will now be used by Afghan special forces that have been trained by the U.S. military and NATO.

Afghan officials said all foreign troops were being relocated to Bagram, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, and from there they would leave to their respective countries.

The U.S. military said it carried out a "precision strike" on May 1 after an airfield in Kandahar where it has a base "received ineffective indirect fire" that caused no damage.

The attack on the Kandahar base, which has not been claimed by any group, came as the Taliban warned that Washington had "violated" a 2020 agreement by not finishing the troop withdrawal by May 1.

That deal signed in February 2020 under the administration of ex-president Donald Trump provided for all foreign forces to be withdrawn by May 1, 2021.

Biden announced in April that the last remaining 2,500 American troops would instead be withdrawn by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and not by May 1.

But he said their withdrawal would start on May 1.

Since the U.S. withdrawal deal was struck the Taliban has not directly engaged foreign troops, attacking government forces instead and waging a terror campaign in urban areas.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and
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