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At least 31 killed in Taliban attack on Afghan forces

At least 31 members of Afghanistan’s security forces were killed in a series of Taliban attacks in three northern provinces, officials said Wednesday.

A Taliban member posing as a police officer helped facilitate an attack that killed nine policemen at a base along the Mazar Sheberghan highway in the province of Balkh late Tuesday, provincial council members Ibrahim Khair Andish and Afzal Hadid told the German Press Agency (dpa).

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that the insurgents in the Balkh attack had infiltrated police ranks from a while ago, waiting for a chance to strike. Though the Taliban often exaggerate their claims, the insurgents also on occasion disguise themselves in Afghan uniforms to get easier access to their targets

In the province of Kunduz, Taliban members attacked at least three checkpoints in Dasht-e Archi overnight, leaving at least 14 dead and six injured, according to provincial council members Safiullah Amiri and Fawzia Yaftali.

In a third attack on Tuesday night, a gunbattle with the Taliban killed seven members of the security forces in Takhar province, according to Jawad Hajri, the provincial governor’s spokesman. He said 10 Taliban fighters were also killed. The shootout took place in Darqad district after the security forces had successfully cleared out the Taliban from several other districts in the past week, said Hajri. Fighting was still underway there on Wednesday, he added.

The Taliban hold sway over practically half of Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks that target soldiers, security forces and government officials but also kill scores of civilians.

Some of the fiercest clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan forces have occurred in the country’s north, leaving hundreds dead on both sides over the past year. The latest attacks came as the U.S. and Taliban delegations were discussing a possible reduction in violence in the embattled country. The Taliban rejected earlier media reports that a cease-fire had been agreed upon with the U.S.

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