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Taliban say new intra-Afghan talks to be in China


File picture of intra-Afghan talks held in Doha in July


Kabul: The Taliban said on Wednesday that they would be sending a delegation to China for a new round of intra-Afghan talks next week following the failure of negotiations with the US.

The insurgent group, which a month earlier had sent a nine-member delegation to China, said the talks planned for October 28-29 would be held within the framework of the intra-Afghan peace conferences that have taken place in Moscow and Doha in the past, Efe news reported.

"China has invited a delegation of the Islamic Emirate (the name by which the insurgents refer to themselves) led by Mullah Baradar to the conference," the militant group's political spokesperson in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said on Twitter.

"All participants will be attending the conference in their personal capacity, and will be presenting their personal views and solutions for Afghanistan's problem," Shaheen added, without revealing who would attend the conference.

The announcement comes after the head of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Mullah Ghani Baradar, on Tuesday met with China's special envoy to Afghanistan, Deng Xijun, according to the insurgents.

In recent months, violence against civilians has increased significantly and touched record numbers between July and September.

According to the latest data from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 1,174 civilians were killed and 3,139 injured during July - September, the highest civilian casualties recorded since UNAMA began keeping records in 2009.

The mission underlined that the numerous civilian casualties occurred as the US and the insurgent group were involved in peace talks in Qatar before US President Donald Trump abruptly announced an end to the negotiations following a series of attacks in Kabul in which an American soldier was killed.

Meanwhile, at least eight militants were confirmed dead as a clash erupted in Afghanistan's Balkh province on Tuesday, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.

The fighting, according to the official, flared up after the armed militants attacked security checkpoints in Palaspush area of the relatively restive province on Tuesday afternoon, triggering a gun battle, which lasted for a while, and the militants fled away after leaving eight bodies and two injured behind.

Without providing more details, the official said the security forces would continue to pursue militants elsewhere in the country.

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