Fighting intensifies in northern Afghanistan after talks collapse

Fighting intensifies in northern Afghanistan after talks collapse

No official information on the casualties has yet been reported.

In a series of early morning tweets over the weekend, President Trump threw a spanner in the months-long efforts of his special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, not only calling off the peace negotiations but also cancelling the hitherto secret, albeit separate, meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban No 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Loudspeakers inside the office broadcast a warning that "an explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound" in the minutes after the strike at midnight, The Associated Press (AP) reported. He added, per the Washington Post, "I'm not even talking about nuclear power".

In the almost 18 years of fighting since then, the number of USA troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.

Mr Trump has said he wants to withdraw around 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. military personnel still in the country.

Officials said there was fighting in at least 10 provinces, with the heaviest clashes in the northern regions of Takhar, Baghlan, Kunduz and Badakhshan, where the Taliban have been pressing security forces for weeks.

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Trump said he called off plans for secret peace talks with the Taliban at Camp David, Maryland last Sunday when he learned that a Taliban-claimed suicide attack had killed 12 in Kabul, including a USA service member.

The Taliban regime that had sheltered 9/11-mastermind Osama Bin Laden was ousted by US -led military forces in 2001 but was never fully routed, maintaining a foothold in Afghanistan for 18 years. His move comes after nine rounds of talks between the USA and Taliban representatives, held in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar.

"Credible elections would provide an important political foundation for the future of the country as well as legitimacy and authority to the elected president, which would be particularly important in view of the expected peace process", he said. "As far as I'm concerned they're dead". Between 14,000 and 13,000 troops are now in the country.

On Monday, Trump had already declared that "over the last four days, we have been hitting our Enemy harder than at any time in the last ten years!"

About 30 Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan's Takhar province, a local source said on Wednesday.

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