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Taliban claims dozens of attacks on Afghan soldiers after announcing ‘spring offensive’

Taliban assaults in two Afghan provinces have left more than 20 Afghan soldiers dead after the group attacked military checkpoints in Kunduz and Faryab province on Wednesday night.

An attack on several checkpoints in the Chaghatak village of Almar district of Faryab killed at least nine security force members and wounded another 15, district governor Mohammed Saleh Saleh said, according to Tolo news.

Police spokesperson Abdul Karim Yourish Faryab said the attack lasted for eight hours, leaving 11 Taliban militants dead, including a local commander, Mohammad Amin.

In Kunduz, the Taliban attacked a Afghan National Army base in Qarluq village in the Dasht-e-Archi district. At least 14 soldiers were killed, Ariana news reported provincial council member Safiulla Amiri as saying. The number of injured soldiers is unknown.

Additional attacks took place in the Markazi district of Baghlan province and on police checkpoints on the Kabul and Kunduz highways, according to the report. Six police officers were killed in fighting with the Taliban in Khalazaee, a village in Baghlan province.

Qamaruddin Shakib, the deputy governor of Logar Province, was killed in an ambush in the Mohammad Agha district on Thursday, according to multiple reports citing police.

In all, the Taliban claimed dozens of attacks throughout the country on Thursday morning.

Fighting season

The attacks come a day after the Taliban announced the start of its spring offensive, a time typically referred to as “fighting season” in Afghanistan. In a statement on Wednesday, the Taliban announced the campaign, called Al Khandaq, named for the Battle of the Trench fought by the Prophet Mohammad.

The statement called President Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer a conspiracy, and said the government planned “to deviate public opinion from the illegitimate foreign occupation of the country, as the Americans have no serious or sincere intentions of bringing the way to an end.”

The Afghan defense ministry has dismissed as propaganda the group’s claim that it will be focusing on killing Afghan and American forces.

“Resolute Support forces were not engaged in these reported attacks,” Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesperson for the NATO mission, told The Defense Post. “The NATO-led Resolute Support mission remains committed to training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces and institutions so that they can fight terrorism and secure their country.”

In February, the Taliban called for direct talks with the United States to find a “peaceful solution” to the conflict.

Deadly airstrike on school is latest blow to Afghanistan peace prospects

This story was updated on April 26 to include a statement from the Resolute Support spokesperson.

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