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Nearly 300 Afghan Security Forces killed over past week, official says

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.

A top Afghan government official has accused the Taliban of unleashing a wave of attacks ahead of potential talks between the warring sides, saying the insurgents had killed 291 local security personnel and wounded 550 others over the past week.

“The past week was the deadliest” in Afghanistan’s 18-year war, Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, tweeted on June 22, adding that the Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces.

“Taliban’s commitment to reduce violence is meaningless, and their actions inconsistent with their rhetoric on peace,” Faisal also wrote.

A Taliban spokesman rejected the latest government figures, saying “the enemy aims to hurt the peace process and intra-Afghan talks by releasing such false reports.”

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The militant group launched “some attacks last week, but they were mostly in defense,” Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

Violence in Afghanistan had dropped after the Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire that ended on May 26 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but officials have accused the militants of stepping up attacks in recent weeks.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting on June 22, President Ashraf Ghani said that the government sees the violence “as running against the spirit of commitment for peace.”

In an attack on the outskirts of Kabul the same day, gunmen shot dead two prosecutors and three other employees of the Attorney General’s Office.

The attackers opened fire on the car they were travelling in, the Interior Ministry said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility and the Taliban denied involvement.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Jamshed Rasooli, said the prosecutors were members of the team supervising the release of Taliban prisoners. He blamed the attack on the “enemies of peace.”

Kabul and the Taliban have signaled they were getting closer to launching much-delayed talks aimed at putting an end to the Afghan conflict.

Earlier this month, Ghani vowed to complete a Taliban prisoner release to pave the way for the negotiations.

The government said it had so far released 3,000 Taliban prisoners and vowed to free another 2,000.

The insurgents have released 500 prisoners they were holding.