KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban fighters attacked an army checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, killing 14 military personnel, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
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The Taliban took responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Paktia province, calling it a “defensive action,” without elaborating.
Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghanistan national security adviser’s office, said despite sporadic clashes, a truce in effect during the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ended Tuesday, would continue.
The Taliban accused the Afghan government of carrying out an airstrike Wednesday killing several civilians. The government said the target was Taliban fighters.
Neither side appeared ready to return to all-out fighting, however. “The détente that started during Eid al-Fitr continues despite reports of scattered incidents to the contrary,” Faisal said.
Meanwhile, a team of five Taliban members were in Kabul discussing the release of Taliban and Afghan government prisoners.
The Afghan government has released 2,000 Taliban prisoners since the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban on Feb. 29 and the insurgents have freed 347 captives.
Under the peace deal, the Afghan government is to release up to 5,000 insurgents, while 1,000 Afghan soldiers and police will be freed by the Taliban. The agreement was signed to allow American soldiers to return home, ending America’s longest military engagement.
The deal also calls for Afghans in Kabul and the Taliban to start negotiations to decide the country’s future. Those negotiations have been delayed because of political feuding between Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival in last year’s presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah. The two reached an agreement earlier this month and the release of prisoners has raised expectations that negotiations can begin.
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