Afghan, US forces kill over 80 Taliban fighters, officials say

More than 80 Taliban fighters have been killed in air raids by Afghan and US forces in Afghanistan’s Kandahar and Faryab provinces in the past 24 hours, officials said.

Abdul Kareem, the police chief in the northern Faryab province, said on Sunday that a group of Taliban fighters carried out an assault on security checkpoints in the Pashtunkot district on Saturday night and were targeted by air raids by the Afghan Air Force.

He told Anadolu Agency that at least 53 Taliban fighters were killed and 11 wounded.

In the southern Kandahar province, US forces conducted air raids in Maruf and Shah Wali Kot districts, killing 33 Taliban fighters and injuring eight others, a statement by the provincial police headquarters said.

The Taliban. meanwhile, claimed to have hit a US convoy in Kandahar in an improvised explosive device attack.

Qari Yosuf, the group’s spokesman, said an armoured vehicle was completely destroyed and all on board were killed.

The US forces in Afghanistan have not commented on the incident.

The Taliban now controls nearly half of Afghanistan and have been relentless in their near-daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces, attacks that often inflict heavy casualties.

It has stepped up a campaign of suicide bombings in recent years as Washington tries to pull its forces out.

On Sunday, an Afghan politician confirmed that US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, for the first time since talks between the US and the Taliban collapsed last month.

Sayed Hamid Gailani, leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, posted on his Twitter account late on Saturday that he met Khalilzad and his team in Kabul to discuss the country’s recent presidential elections and peace efforts.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press, an Afghan official also confirmed on Sunday that President Ashraf Ghani met Khalilzad.

Khalilzad’s visit to Kabul follows a meeting in Moscow he held with representatives of China, Russia and Pakistan, over restarting peace talks to end Afghanistan’s 18-year-old war.