[Taliban in Afghanistan. Archive photo]
KABUL, (Xinhua): Taliban militants who have been fighting to regain power in Afghanistan, in a dreadful attack on Afghan soldiers killed 19 personnel of Afghan National Army (ANA) in Kunar province 180 km east of Kabul on Sunday, provincial governor Shuja Al-Mulk Jalala said.
“Nineteen army soldiers were killed when Taliban militants launched an attack on an army checkpoint in Ghazi Abad district of Kunar overnight early Sunday morning,” Jalala told newsmen.
He also confirmed that the militants had taken away eight more soldiers to unknown place.
The deadly offensive took place amid ongoing peace efforts by the Afghan government to convince Taliban outfit to give up fighting and join the political mainstream.
According to the government-backed peace body the High Peace Council (HPC), a delegation of the entity held talks with the Taliban delegation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday.
“The meeting with Taliban was a follow-up to recent talks in Dubai, an initiative of Taliban finance minister Agha Jan Mustasim, ” quoting a statement of HPC, the English newspaper the Daily Outlook reported on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, HPC in the statement also stated that “wide ranging talks on Afghanistan’s current situation, ways of ending the war and taking the peace process forward had been held with a four-member Taliban group in Dubai very recently and both sides agreed to continue the talks until reaching a negotiated settlement of the conflict.”
Ironically, the Taliban outfit, in a statement posted on its website has rejected any talks with the government, noting Agha Jan cannot represent Taliban leadership in any talks.
Some 100 armed Taliban fighters, according to Abdul Ghani Ghani, the spokesman for provincial administration, attended in Sunday’s barefaced and bloodiest attack.
Zabihullah Mujahid, who claimed to speak for the Taliban outfit in talks with media, via telephone from unknown location confirmed the attack on Afghan army base in Kunar and claimed that 25 Afghan soldiers were killed and eight captured, while only two Taliban fighters lost their lives in the firefight lasted for a while.
This is the first time that Taliban militants conducted massive attack involving some 100 fighters. In previous attacks, the Taliban fighters had often used suicide and roadside bombings to target security personnel.
The deadly attack against Afghan soldiers is taking place amid strained relations between Kabul and Washington over the delay in inking Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and the preparation of NATO-led forces to end combat mission by the end of 2014 in Afghanistan.