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At least 28 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attacks, prisoner release postponed

Afghan National Security Forces conduct a dismounted patrol of the Sperwan Ghar region in southern Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2012. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Brandenburg/U.S. Army)

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

Militants have killed 28 members of the Afghan security forces, police officials and authorities said on March 30, as the government postponed a release of Taliban prisoners.

Militants stormed the compound of a top police official in the northeastern province of Takhar on March 29, killing 13 police officers and wounding the senior official, a spokesman for the force said.

In the southern province of Zabul, Taliban fighters attacked government security outposts, killing at least 11 soldiers, also on March 29, police said.

Attacks on government security posts in the southern province of Helmand and northern province of Baghlan killed four members of the security forces, officials said.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s National Security Council said the government will not carry out a planned release of 100 Taliban prisoners on March 31.

The Taliban and the United States reached a deal last month allowing the Americans and their allies to withdraw their forces in exchange for Taliban promises on preventing terrorism.

The Taliban eventually accepted also to hold talks with the U.S-backed government, one of the conditions being the gradual release of militants held by Afghan security forces.

“There is no prisoner release happening tomorrow,” National Security Council spokesperson Javid Faisal tweeted on March 29.

According to Faisal, during a video conference on March 29 — the third between the two sides — the Taliban had agreed to send a delegation to Kabul to conduct further discussions with government officials.

The Taliban team was supposed to arrive at Bagram prison to verify the militants’ prisoners, but its arrival was delayed due to technical issues, according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.