Afghan forces lunched ground attacks and air strikes in multiple operations against the Taliban during the last 24 hours, killing 51 fighters in an escalation that signaled renewed deadlock in peace talks.
Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that government forces had conducted 13 ground offensives and 12 air strikes in nine provinces, adding that 51 “terrorists” had been killed, 13 wounded and six arrested.
Local officials in the northern province of Balkh said at least three women and four children were killed in the air strikes, prompting protests in front of the provincial governor’s office.
The government pledged to send a fact-finding mission to investigate the reports of civilian deaths.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said it had staged two more attacks targeting security forces over the weekend, following sporadic assaults last week.
Afghan security forces’ checkpoints in Kunduz were attacked on Saturday night, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement, adding that 10 members of the security forces were killed and three wounded. Taliban fighters also captured a large weapons cache, he said.
In a separate statement, the Taliban said its fighters had ambushed an Afghan forces patrol in Balkh, killing eight security personnel.