Taliban attack Afghan city amid peace talks with US

U.S. will maintain presence in Afghanistan even if deal reached with Taliban: Trump

The fall of Kunduz underscored the vulnerability of Afghan security forces and played a role in stopping the pull-out of USA forces under President Barack Obama.

"So far, eight Taliban fighters have been killed in the east and west of Kunduz", Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, Kunduz police spokesman, told AFP news agency.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing.

"The Taliban attacked Kunduz today and caused damages to civilians and their houses".

Presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi told reporters the attack was "completely against the peace talks".

Trump says that troops will only be reduced when the Afghan Taliban give a guarantee that its territory will not be used by Al Qaeda or other worldwide militant groups.

"On the one hand they are talking with the U.S., on the other hand they are attacking people's houses and villages". The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen Scott Miller, also visited the city, Khalilzad said.

The Taliban seized Kunduz for about two weeks in 2015 before US and Afghan forces pushed the fighters out. Hours later the Afghan defense minister, Asadullah Khalid, rejected speculation that the city had collapsed. Security reinforcements had arrived in the morning from Kabul and repelled Taliban fighters from the city, he told the local TOLO news channel. Hospital officials could not immediately be reached.

A USA service member was killed in Afghanistan during combat operations, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement on Friday, as the United States seeks to reach a negotiated end to the almost 18-year-old war. However, peace talks between the USA and Taliban continue in Doha, Qatar.

Taliban and the USA officials could not finalise agreement until Friday morning on eighth day of talks in the current round despite high hopes by both the sides to make the deal ready for signing. He is expected to visit Kabul on Sunday to brief the Afghan government.

Afghan officials say 60 Taliban fighters have been killed in the assault.

The United States in the negotiations has also sought Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will no longer be a launching pad for terror attacks such as the September 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. by al-Qaida.

More than 2,400 USA service members have died in Afghanistan since the US -led invasion in late 2001 to topple the Taliban, whose government had harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Some 20,000 USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan after formally ending their combat role in 2014.

Taliban insist the U.S. has already agreed on a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and in return Taliban will ensure they will not allow Afghan soil to be used against the United States and its allies.

Despite peace talks, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces, who are backed by US air power, has not subsided.



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