Afghan security forces, backed by US air strikes, killed two of the movement’s shadow provincial governors on Sunday, as fighting stepped up in the wake of the collapse of talks aimed at ending the conflict, officials said.
The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in the capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the United States and the Taliban.
The defence ministry in a statement said at least 85 Taliban fighters were killed in a joint ground and air operation in southern Paktika province on Saturday night.
The figure was rejected by the Taliban, who said seven fighters had been killed and 11 wounded while casualties among the security forces were over 20.
“The rest of the claims are baseless,” the movement’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.