Taliban attacks in Afghanistan kill at least 22 security forces

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces continues 17 years after US intervention

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces continues 17 years after US intervention

Taliban officials have demanded the withdrawal of USA forces from the country and the establishment of a government in Kabul that reflects the group's view of Islam.

On Saturday, Mr Khalilzad flew to Kabul to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for fulfilling a United States pledge of keeping the Kabul government involved.

Terming the talks and Khalilzad's return to Kabul "as progress", Nazar Mohammad Mutmaen, an analyst familiar with Taliban leaders, said: "It is the first high-level meeting of U.S. officials with the Taliban and shows that both sides are giving peace a priority", he told Arab News.

The Taliban have long demanded direct talks with Americans, instead of coming via Kabul but the Trump administration has assured the Afghan government that they will not be sidelined.

The US media noted that Mr Khalilzad, an Afghanistan-born former US ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations, will have to perform a hard balancing act between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Khalil Aser, spokesman for the provincial police chief in Takhar province, said 32 others were wounded when the explosives-laden motorbike parked near the rally in Rustaq district blew up.

The attack took place at about noon before Nazefa Yusoufi Beg, a female candidate running for a seat in parliament in the October 20 elections, arrived at the rally, Aser said.

Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and "a lot of people" had been killed.

Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.

Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians. He was holding a meeting at the time of the attack in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

Afghan Taliban agree to United States talks.

In exchange, the Taliban want the Afghan government to release fighters from jails across the country and the swift removal of foreign forces fighting alongside Afghan troops.

There are 2,565 candidates vying for seats in the 249-member chamber, including 417 women candidates. Afghan security forces accidentally killed three bodyguards of an independent candidate during a raid on a house near his residence in the eastern Kunar province.

Ahmadzai said initial report show both the groom and bride were not hurt.

At least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, nearly half of them targeted by suicide bomb attacks and other improvised devices that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said last week.

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