Multiple bomb blasts hit Afghanistan; security forces members killed

At least four Afghan security forces members have been killed in separate bomb blasts in eastern and southern provinces, amid a surge in clashes between the government forces and the Taliban militant group.

A police spokesman said on Saturday that a Humvee packed with explosives targeted a police outpost, injuring seven police personnel in southern Kandahar province.

The bomb blast came after “18 Taliban terrorists were killed and 9 others were wounded” in an operation in Arghandab district of Kandahar province on Friday, according to Defense Ministry.

Another blast targeted a police commander in the Chapa Dara district of eastern Kunar province, killing four local police personnel, including the commander, said a provincial police spokesman.

And three civilians were injured in a roadside bomb in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province. 

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Afghanistan has seen near-daily attacks targeting prominent Afghans, including politicians, journalists, activists, judges, religious scholars, and military forces in recent weeks.

Afghan and US officials have blamed the string of assassinations on Taliban militants.

The surge in violence comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are negotiating to find an end to years of bloodshed in the country.

The US along with its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the guise of fighting terrorism and dismantling al-Qaeda.

The invasion — which has turned into the longest war in US history — removed the Taliban from power, but the militant group has never stopped its attacks, citing the foreign military presence as one of the main reasons behind its continued militancy.

Nearly two decades on, Washington struck a deal with the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha early last year.

Under the deal, all foreign troops are expected to leave Afghan soil by May in exchange for the Taliban to halt their attacks on forces forces.

The administration of former President Donald Trump reduced the number of US troops in Afghanistan from approximately 13,500 to 2,500 before leaving office in mid-January.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, however, said last month that “it’s very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement.”

“I don’t think it is helpful to be drawn now into specific hypothetical discussions about troop numbers on a specific calendar basis,” he said.

Soon after his remarks, the US-led NATO alliance also said it plans to keep troops in the country beyond the May deadline.

The NATO said that “with the new US administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy.”

The Western alliance alleged that “conditions have not been met” by the Taliban.

The Taliban reacted to the remarks, warning that the longer US forces remain in Afghanistan, the more troops will be killed.

The militant group also said that the stay of foreign troops beyond the pre-determined time is contrary to the bilateral agreements.

Over 2,400 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed in the war so far.

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