Taliban launch deadly attacks across Afghanistan amid peace conference | News | DW | 09.12.2015
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Taliban launch deadly attacks across Afghanistan amid peace conference

The militant group has claimed a key district in the Helmand province following a siege on the city of Kandahar. The series of attacks comes as the Afghan president attempts to kick-start peace talks in Pakistan.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 37 civilians and security personnel were killed, and another 35 wounded following a brutal attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan's second-largest city Kandahar.

"Afghanistan's national army forces are bravely fighting terrorists in airport areas and are trying to act cautiously to avoid harm to civilians," the defense ministry said in a statement.

At least nine Taliban insurgents were killed and another one wounded during the fighting. One fighter was reported to have continued resisting Afghan security forces.

The Taliban staged another attack in the Helmand province, effectively capturing the key district of Khanishin, known as a key point for drug smuggling routes through the south.

According to local police, at least 16 police officers were killed and another 11 wounded. "Today…our security forces have tactically retreated from Khanishin district center, after three days of clashes, resulting in the death of 16 Afghan security personnel," said Helmand police spokesman Mahmood Ashna.

Seeking peace

The uptick in violence comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on more support from neighbors in a bid to curb the insurgency and kick-start a peace process.

Ghani said during his opening speech at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad that he urged all parties in the conflict to lay down their arms and join in peace talks.

"Violence is not the way in a democratic society," Ghani noted. "I strongly reiterate our commitment to lasting and just peace with all movements," the Afghan president added.

In a joint statement by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghani, they called on "all Taliban groups and all other armed opposition groups to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government."

ls/jil (Reuters, AP, dpa)