Skirmishes between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces recommence after a three-day ceasefire expired in Afghanistan.

Afghan National Army forces go towards the site of an aeroplane crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan. January 27, 2020.
Afghan National Army forces go towards the site of an aeroplane crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan. January 27, 2020. (Mustafa Andalib / Reuters)

Taliban fighters stormed an Afghan border post on Friday, killing at least 14 security force members, officials said, the latest in a series of attacks since the end of a brief ceasefire.

Afghan officials confirmed the attack in the early hours of Friday had killed 14 Afghan security force members.

Dande Patan district governor Eid Mohammad Ahmadzai told AFP that 15 security force members and 20 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting.

"Last night the mujahideen carried out attacks against the newly established posts of the enemy in Dande Patan district of Paktia province," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

He said added two Taliban fighters were also killed.

Resurgence of violence

Officials had also accused the Taliban of carrying out two other raids on separate checkpoints on Thursday, but the Taliban have not claimed those attacks so far. 

Those two attacks also killed a total of 14 Afghan security force members.

Skirmishes between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces recommenced in Afghanistan in the day since a three-day ceasefire expired, but government officials said earlier on Thursday that the incidents were minor and the truce could still hold.

The Taliban had remained silent on government appeals for an extension of the ceasefire, which was announced for the Eid al Fitr holiday that ends the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

"Taliban attacked checkpoints in the Syagird district of central Parwan province late Wednesday night," a spokeswoman of the province's governor said, adding that seven Afghan security forces personnel were killed.

Mujahid said the government had carried out air strikes on Wednesday in the southern province of Zabul, claiming the insurgents had not carried out any attacks till that point.

'Complicated technical process'

The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw US forces after more than 18 years in Afghanistan, leaving the Afghan government to negotiate a peace deal with the country's former rulers to end the war.

But so far the conflict has not subsided, with the holiday ceasefire having come at a time of intensified fighting. Since the truce formally ended on Tuesday night, senior Afghan government officials say there have been some violations from both sides, but not big enough to doom the ceasefire effort.

“The ceasefire is not over yet; there have been violations because it is a complicated technical process that requires good coordination between both sides,” said Javid Faisal, spokesperson for the Afghan National Security Advisor.

The Afghan government freed 900 Taliban members from prison on Tuesday, the biggest such release yet, as part of a prisoner swap under the deal struck by the militant group and the United States in Qatar in February.

The prisoner exchange is a precursor to the peace talks, and the government said an extension in the ceasefire was important to furthering the peace process. 

The Taliban welcomed the prisoner release and said they would reciprocate soon, but said nothing about extending the ceasefire.

A Taliban delegation has arrived in Kabul to work with a government team on the release of prisoners on both sides, spokesmen for both sides said on Twitter on Thursday.

Source: AFP