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Afghan officials: Taliban target security forces, killing seven

Afghan municipality workers clean a road in front of the damaged buildings, a day after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 9, 2019.

RAHMAT GUL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By RAHIM FAIEZ | Associated Press | Published: May 13, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban targeted security checkpoints in Afghanistan's northern Sari Pul province, killing at least seven members of the country's security forces, provincial officials said Monday.

The insurgents also abducted two members of the force and left five wounded in the Sunday night attacks near the provincial capital, said Mohammad Noor Rahmani, head of the provincial council.

The troops were in charge of providing security for fuel wells in the area. Zabi Amani, the provincial governor's spokesman, said four Taliban fighters were killed in what he said was a gunbattle that lasted several hours.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but provincial officials blamed the Taliban insurgents who repeatedly target Afghan security forces in the province.

Meanwhile, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan expressed grave concerns about the increase in violence around the country during the first week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The statement pointed out two major Taliban attacks in the past week — a Kabul attack against a non-government agency that killed five and an attack in northern Baghlan province that struck police headquarters, killing 13 officers.

"There can be absolutely no justification for deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative, was quoted as saying.

In recent months, the Taliban have stepped up their attacks, inflicting staggering casualties on Afghan forces, and now hold sway over half the country. The U.S., meanwhile, has accelerated efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the 17-year war — America's longest conflict — and has pressed for direct talks between the Taliban and Kabul.

The Taliban have rejected an offer by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government for a cease-fire during Ramadan.

Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

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