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Taliban claim attack as spring offensive begins

AFP  |  Kabul 

The on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack in eastern that the group said was part of its newly announced spring offensive.

According to Afghan officials, fighters on Friday night detonated two truck bombs in the Shirzad district of province, east of

The assault came hours after the announced the start of Operation Fath, the name the militants have given to this year's spring offensive.

"Both sides have sustained casualties," the Afghan defence ministry said. "Clashes are ongoing between (Afghan security forces) and Taliban terrorists."

The Taliban, who frequently exaggerate numbers, claimed to have killed or wounded "more than 200 soldiers, police and militias".

said two Afghan troops had been killed, along with 27 Taliban fighters.

Another Taliban attack was reported around the edges of the northern city of Kunduz, which the militants briefly captured in 2015.

Naeem Mangal, of the regional hospital, told AFP at least eight people were killed and 62 wounded.

In province in the west, at least seven Afghan security forces were killed in a Taliban ambush, told AFP.

Afghan Ashraf Ghani's palace on Saturday condemned "in the strongest words" the announcement of Operation Fath.

"The continuation of war is no one's interest," the palace said.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though in reality fighting in recent winters has continued unabated.

The is leading a push to forge a settlement with the Taliban, after nearly 18 years of war, and has held several meetings with Taliban officials.

Later this month, Taliban officials are expected to meet with representatives, including some officials from the government, in the Qatari capital

The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the militants have insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".

The last week said it had lifted for 11 Taliban delegates, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a of the movement and its top political leader, as well as Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's former

"The requested exemption is solely for travels required for participation in peace and reconciliation discussions," the said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 18:45 IST