May 5, 2018
At least 31 Taliban militants have been killed during clashes with Afghan security forces in the central province of Ghazni.
Afghan officials said Saturday that the gunfights took place in Andar district on Friday while the military was on a mission to protect a key highway.
Two civilians were also killed and four others were injured when a mortar shell struck a home in the district, about 153 kilometers southwest of the capital Kabul.
Mohammad Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the militants were trying to take control of an arterial road and had attacked many security checkpoints.
Noori said security forces managed to push the militants back “from the areas near Ghazni-Paktika highway, but the road is still closed due to serious damages caused by the Taliban.”
Separately, two militants were killed when explosives went off on a highway in Ghazni.
Three weeks ago, Taliban militants captured Khwaja Omari district in Ghazni, killing its administrator along with at least 14 other people and burning down the district’s headquarters.
Last month, Taliban announced the official start of their annual spring raids, seen across the crisis-hit country recently as warmer weather has set in.
The escalation in attacks by Taliban showed the group was barely interested in an offer of peace talks made by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Taliban made no mention of the offer that came in February, showing that the group may even intensify its devastating campaign across Afghanistan.
The US-backed Afghan government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections even as its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.
Airstrikes by US warplanes have also significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of Taliban and other militant outfits, including the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, in the country.
US-led forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled a ruling Taliban regime some 17 years ago. That ongoing war has failed to bring stability to the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces.
A recent survey found that the militants were active in two-thirds of the country and were fully controlling four percent of it.
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