Afghan officials: Taliban attacks on checkpoints kill 29

A wave of Taliban attacks on checkpoints across Afghanistan has killed 29 members of the security forces, officials said Monday.

In northern Takhar province, 19 security personnel were killed in a battle Sunday night in the district of Khwaja Ghor, according to Jawad Hajri, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The Taliban fled the scene after reinforcement arrived, Hajri added.

Meanwhile, in northern Balkh province, a Taliban attack on Sunday morning in the Sholgara district killed seven, according to Adil Shah Adil, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

A child was caught in the crossfire and wounded during the attack, which also killed five Taliban, he added.

And in western Badghis province, the Taliban struck an army checkpoint early on Sunday morning, killing three soldiers and wounding 10, said Tahsel Haideri, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

The Taliban, who have not claimed responsibility for the attacks, and President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul are in the process of exchanging prisoners as part of a peace deal signed by the U.S. and the Taliban at the end of February in Doha, Qatar.

The release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 government officials held captive by the insurgents ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations is a condition of the U.S.-Taliban deal.

At the heart of most of the talks, say Taliban and U.S. officials, is the demand for a reduction of violence.

The Taliban have not been attacking U.S. and NATO troops since the agreement was signed but have struck Afghan forces in outlying areas. Washington wants a reduction in those attacks.