Clashes, blasts intensify across Afghanistan

KABUL (REUTERS) – At least four Afghan security force members, including a commander, were killed and seven were critically injured in blasts in eastern and southern provinces on Saturday (Feb 13), officials said, adding that three civilians were injured in the east.

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the three attacks, which came amid an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan as clashes intensify between government forces and Taleban insurgents.

A string of near-daily roadside bombings in recent weeks has killed government officials, judges, journalists and activists.

The bloodshed occurred as US-brokered peace talks in Qatar between the Taleban and representatives of the Afghan government floundered in recent months.

President Joe Biden’s team is reviewing a peace-building deal that the government of his predecessor Donald Trump sealed with the Taleban in February 2020.

The pact requires all American and allied forces to leave the country by May 1.

The United States has reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 from the 12,000 there when the agreement was signed.

But violence remains high, with the US and Afghan governments largely blaming the Taleban.

On Saturday, a police spokesman in southern Kandahar province said a blast there was caused by a Humvee packed with explosives that targeted a police outpost, injuring seven police personnel.

Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry said “18 Taleban terrorists were killed and nine others were wounded” in an operation in Arghandab district of Kandahar province on Friday night.

In another incident, an explosion targeted the police commander in the Chapa Dara district of eastern Kunar province, killing four local police personnel, including the commander, said a provincial police spokesman.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb blast injured three civilians in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

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