More than 30 people, including civilians and security forces, have been killed in separate Taliban attacks on security checkpoints across Afghanistan, officials have said. Four students were killed in an explosion, probably caused by a mortar attack.
At least 15 other students and their two teachers were wounded in the incident as the mortar hit their school in the Andar district of eastern Ghazni province. The explosion took place while security forces and Taliban fighters exchanged fire during an assault on a police checkpoint on Saturday, Arif Noori, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province, told Al Jazeera.
The students killed were aged between 10 and 16, Noori said, adding an investigation has been launched on who fired the projectile that hit the school. In a separate incident in Ghazni city, nine Afghan policemen were killed when Taliban fighters stormed their checkpoints and launched a follow-up ambush late on Friday. At least 12 members of the security forces were killed and another five were wounded in the fighting that started late on Thursday night, provincial councillors Abdullah Naji Nazari and Abdul Rahman Talaat said.
Another five were taken hostage by the Taliban, the officials said. By controlling Arghanj Khaw, the Taliban is now in a position to attack Badakhshan’s capital Faizabad, they said. Meanwhile, four policemen were killed and two wounded after a Taliban fighter opened fire at a checkpoint in Zabul in southern Afghanistan on late Friday. On Thursday, Minister of Defence Asadullah Khalid warned that the Taliban would wage an intense fight in the coming year and told Afghan forces to be ready.
The government controls or influences some 53.8 percent of the country’s districts, down from 64 percent in 2017, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Taliban continues to stage major attacks on security forces despite being engaged in talks with the United States to find a political solution to the almost two-decades-long war that has ravaged the Central Asian nation.
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