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Taliban attacks kill 15 policemen in northern Afghanistan

An Afghan National Army Commando squad conducts live fire exercises during training at Camp Pamir, Kunduz province, Afghanistan, Feb. 13, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Fifteen police officers have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz, a provincial council member says.

Ghulam Rabbani Rabbani said the officers were killed on October 22 when Taliban fighters attacked a checkpoint in Ali Abad district and ambushed security forces in the same area.

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the group was behind the assaults, which comes as Afghan forces have been battling the extremist group for the past few weeks in the province’s Dashti Archi and Imam Sahib districts, according to Rabbani.

Taliban fighters are said to control several districts in Kunduz Province.

They took control of the provincial capital, also named Kunduz, for two weeks in 2015. The city has since come under attack several times.

The Taliban control nearly half of Afghanistan and have launched near-daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces. The fighting has claimed the lives of many civilians.

In early September, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reached a preliminary deal with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan, but President Donald Trump later declared the peace process “dead.”

During a visit to Kabul on October 21, visiting Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Afghan officials that the United States’ “long-standing commitment” to the country remains amid concerns Washington would pull its troops following a similar move in Syria.

In Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that he had a “useful briefing” with Khalilzad.

“NATO and our partners remain committed to supporting Afghanistan and creating the conditions for a peaceful settlement,” he added.

There are some 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as well as thousands of European forces participating in the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.