Afghan police killed in Taliban attack on base

Clay Curtis
June 10, 2018

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior USA officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most risky militants since it appeared around 2015.

Ghani first spoke about the possibility of a ceasefire with the militant Islamist group in February, when he announced that the Afghan government was willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a potential agreement.

The militants said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and that operations against them would continue.

"People of Afghanistan and the High Peace Council are hopping that it will be a step to start face-to-face talks between Afghan government and armed Taliban", said Ehsan Taheri, spokesman for the High Peace Council. "I hope the bold initiatives towards peace taken by President Ghani will be respected by all parties", Modi said at the summit, also attended by Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.

Ghani made his surprise offer in a televised speech on Thursday, saying it would give the Taliban a chance to reconsider their "violent campaign" during the last days of Ramadan.

The Taliban's cease-fire is expected to run from June 12 to June 14, while the government's will last until around June 20.

But the group said its attacks against US-led troops stationed in the country will continue unabatedly in any area.

More than two weeks ago the top United States commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said some Taliban leaders were in contact with the Afghan government.

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Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has led worldwide security efforts in Afghanistan since 2003.

The Trump administration has increased the number of US troops in Afghanistan in an effort to give local forces, which continue to struggle despite more than a decade and a half of outside support, a battlefield advantage.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this could, for example, allow the partially shift the focus of aerial surveillance from the Taliban to IS fighters as well as al-Qaida extremists, who remain a threat 17 years after the USA invaded.

Kunduz officials and provincial council members said Taliban attacked a number of security check posts on Friday just after midnight in Qala-e-Zal district.

He said the Afghan security forces immediately responded to the attack by deploying forces and at least eight militants were killed in the retaliatory fire.

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