Taliban militants kill 20 Afghan troops despite calls for Ramadan truce

Taliban militants kill 20 Afghan troops despite calls for Ramadan truce
The Taliban still carry out near-daily attacks on Afghan forces even as peace efforts have accelerated to find an end to Afghanistan's nearly 18-year war.
3 min read
The Taliban killed 20 at an army checkpoint in Gulistan district, Afghanistan [AFP/Getty]

An Afghan official says the Taliban stormed an army checkpoint in western Farah province, killing 20 troops.

Provincial councilman Dadullah Qaneh said on Monday that the insurgents also captured two soldiers in the attack in Gulistan district overnight. The fate of the abducted wasn't immediately known.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban still carry out near-daily attacks on Afghan forces even as peace efforts have accelerated to find an end to Afghanistan's nearly 18-year war.

Earlier on Sunday, the Taliban set off a suicide car bombing and stormed a police headquarters in northern Baghlan province, killing 13 policemen and setting off a six-hour gunbattle.

The Interior Ministry said 55 people, including 20 civilians, were wounded before the attackers were all killed.

America's longest war

Peace talks between the US and the Taliban were suspended on Monday for the beginning of Ramadan, with the two sides at apparent loggerheads over the key issue of when foreign forces might leave Afghanistan.

The foes have spent much of the past week in a sixth round of talks in Doha aimed at ending America's longest war, but the Taliban say negotiations have become bogged down.

In a tweet, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the talks were pausing for the first day of the holy month of Ramadan - when Muslims fast during the daylight hours - but would be resumed Tuesday.

Before the US agrees to any withdrawal, it is demanding the Taliban put in place security guarantees, a ceasefire and other commitments including an "intra-Afghan" dialogue with the Kabul government and other Afghan representatives.

The insurgents insist they won't do any of these things until the US announces a withdrawal timeline.

At the end of a large peace summit in Kabul last week, President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a ceasefire to begin on the first day of Ramadan, but the insurgents refused.

Ghani on Monday reiterated his call for the Taliban to respect demands from last week's "loya jirga" summit.

"Ramadan is a month of peace and reconciliation," Ghani said.

"I once again call on the Taliban to pay respect to this month and the demands of the people for peace and reconciliation reflected (in the Loya Jirga).”

The historic "lora jirga" peace summit saw about 3,200 religious and tribal leaders, politicians and representatives meet in Kabul to try to find a breakthrough in Afghanistan's gruelling conflict, which is now in its 18th year.

The insurgent group has so far refused to even speak with Ghani, who they view as an American stooge.

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