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Taliban ambush kills at least 25 Afghan security personnel

The group said its soldiers ‘engaged the enemy’ in retaliation

At least 25 Afghan security force personnel were killed in an ambush blamed on the Taliban, officials said on Wednesday, as spiralling violence imperils ongoing peace talks.

The ambush came despite Taliban assurances to Washington last week that they would reduce bloodshed.

Security forces were attacked overnight Tuesday in Takhar province and fighting was ongoing, said Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for the governor, who put the death toll so far at 25.

“The Taliban had taken positions in the houses around the area. They ambushed our forces who were there for an operation against the enemy,” he said.

Takhar provincial health director Abdul Qayoum said 34 security personnel had been killed — including the deputy police chief of the province.

Bid to gain leverage

The Taliban did not directly take responsibility, but said their fighters had “engaged the enemy” in Takhar to retaliate against security operations carried out against them.

Despite joining peace talks with the Afghan government in Qatar last month, the Taliban have only increased violence in Afghanistan in a bid to wield leverage in the negotiations.

A major assault by the militants in Helmand province forced thousands of families to flee their homes this month, while a car bomb Sunday near the police headquarters in Ghor blamed on the insurgents left 16 people dead and 154 wounded.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said nearly 40,000 people had fled in Helmand.

Little progress has been made in meetings between Afghan government negotiators and the Taliban in Doha

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