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More than 50 killed in Afghanistan as Taliban attacks security forces

According to the special inspector general, nearly half of Afghanistan is either under the direct control or the Taliban or deeply influenced by them. Picture by Allauddin Khan/AP Photos
Rahim Faiez and Amir Shah, Associated Press

TALIBAN insurgents have killed at least 52 people in separate attacks on Afghan security forces in the country's north.

The head of the provincial council in Kunduz province, Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, said at least 13 security forces were killed and 15 others wounded in an attack on a checkpoint they were manning in Dashti Archi district.

In Jawzjan province, police chief Gen Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani said the Taliban attacked Khamyab district from different sides, forcing Afghan forces to withdraw from the district headquarters to avoid civilian causalities.

General Jawzjani said at least eight policemen were killed and three other officers were wounded. Seven Taliban were killed and eight were hurt during the gun battle, he added.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was behind the attacks in Kunduz and Jawzjan provinces.

The Taliban also killed another 14 local Afghan policemen and pro-government militiamen in the Dara Suf district of Samangan province, provincial spokesman Sediq Azizi said, adding that six others were also wounded.

Mr Azizi added that three Taliban fighters were killed and four others were wounded during the battle.

No-one claimed responsibility for the attack in Samangan, but Mr Azizi blamed Taliban insurgents who are active in the province and often target Afghan security forces and local, pro-government militias.

Meanwhile, in the northern Sari Pul province, the provincial governor, Zahir Wahdat, said the Taliban killed at least 17 Afghan security force members and wounded three others in attacks across the province.

He said 39 Taliban fighters were killed and 14 others were wounded in the battles, adding that the death toll could rise.

Gen Abdul Qayum Baqizai, the provincial police chief, said at least two security force personnel were killed in the battles.

"The Taliban's attack has been repelled, but sporadic gun battles are under way at the outskirts of the city," he added.

Since a June ceasefire that marked the Islamic holiday of Eid al Fitr, Taliban insurgents have ramped up attacks against Afghanistan's security forces, killing hundreds of security personnel in increasingly well-coordinated assaults across the country.

During the three-day ceasefire, pictures circulated of Taliban arm-in-arm with Afghan security forces, singing and taking selfies together.

Outraged, Mohammad Yaqub, the son of the Taliban's founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, circulated a harshly worded audio tape condemning the fraternisation.

Since then, attacks against military installations have been relentless, and on several occasions the Afghan National Security Forces (Ansa) have been out-gunned and out-manoeuvred.

Washington's watchdog, the special inspector general for Afghanistan's reconstruction, noted weaknesses within the security forces, including desertions, inadequate training and corruption.

Since 2014, Ansa has taken the lead in the war against insurgents, with the US and Nato providing support and training.

However, the Taliban have increased in strength and, according to the special inspector general, nearly half the country is either under their direct control or deeply influenced by them.

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