27 Taliban terrorist killed in encounter with security forces in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province
At least 27 Taliban fighters were killed in an encounter with Afghan security forces in Shirzad district in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on Friday evening, reports Tolo news.
Hours after announcing its annual spring offensive, the Taliban attempted an attack near the district governor's office. But they were "pushed back and defeated" by security forces, said the government in a statement.
The statement elaborated that the Taliban planted two car bombs followed by a gunfight with the security forces.
However, two Afghan security personnel were also killed in the ensuing gun battle.
Taliban, in a statement on Friday, said: "Operation Fath, which means victory in Arabic, will be conducted across Afghanistan with the aim of eradicating occupation and cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption."
The announcement comes despite the US efforts to end two decades of war in Afghanistan. Several rounds of negotiations were conducted by the US in Doha, Qatar's capital city.
Zalmay Khalilzad , the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said the announcement is "reckless" and reflects the Taliban's "indifference" to the demands of Afghans for peace.
Khalilzad has held five rounds of talks with the Taliban so far in a bid to end the conflict.
"The Taliban's spring offensive announcement is reckless. It is irresponsible to suggest that an increase in violence is warranted because the government announced a security plan. The Afghan people have clearly voiced their desire for peace," tweeted Khalilzad.
"Through this announcement, Taliban leaders demonstrate their indifference to the demands of Afghans across the country. The call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts. If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities," he added.
The Afghan government, however, has called the Taliban's spring offensive as a "mere propaganda".
"The Taliban will not reach their vicious goals and their operations will be defeated like previous years," said Qais Mangal, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence.