Afghan violence rages for second day, killing dozens

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Media captionTaliban “threaten 70% of Afghanistan”, BBC investigation finds.

Militants are continuing to attack Afghanistan’s northern Sar-e Pul province, as officials say its capital will fall without reinforcements.

At least 17 government security forces had been killed in the last 24 hours near Sar-e Pul city, the governor said.

Taliban fighters attacked the province on Sunday night, with further clashes in three neighbouring provinces.

The violence follows recent diplomatic efforts to end the lengthy war between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

A spokesman for the provincial governor reportedly said militants were gathering to the east of Sar-e Pul city, warning “the centre will fall to the Taliban” if the government did not send more troops.

Security forces had killed at least 39 Taliban fighters, he said.

A Taliban spokesman meanwhile said their fighters had taken checkpoints no more than five kilometres (3 miles) from the city centre.

At least 50 civilians in the province were killed by militants last month, after fighters attacked a police checkpoint and Shia Muslim civilians in a nearby village.

Government forces have suffered several setbacks in recent weeks in their battle against the Taliban.

Over the last few days, dozens of security forces were killed fighting in the northern Jawzjan, Kunduz and Samargan provinces.

Militants also briefly seized the major city of Ghazni in August, sitting on the main highway between the capital Kabul and the south of the country.

The renewed fighting has dampened the prospect of diplomatic progress ending the war.

Earlier this year, hopes were raised after an unprecedented three-day ceasefire during Eid celebrations was largely respected by both sides, and Taliban officials secretly met a senior US diplomat in Qatar in July.

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Media captionTears, hugs and selfies as Afghan troops and Taliban mark a truce for Eid

BBC News – Asia