Taliban officials 'in talks with Afghan government', United States says

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The attack on the interior ministry not only killed a policeman, but also injured five civilians.

The body of a militant fighter, wearing a military uniform, lies inside the Interior Ministry building after a deadly attack, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

Twelve other people, including four police officers and eight civilians, were wounded in the attack, provincial police chief Mohmmad Abdali told RFE/RL.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks against Afghan security forces as well as government officials since the announcement of their spring offensive in April across the country.

US forces killed more than 50 Taliban leaders in a series of strikes against those behind a recent attack in the Helmand provincial capital of Farah, US military and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander General John Nicholson said on Wednesday.

Among the dead were the commander of the police station and the deputy director of traffic police for the provincial capital, Puli Alim, said Khalid Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Meanwhile, also in Helmand, a district governor says a suicide auto bomber wounded six people, including three policemen, on Thursday morning. He said all coalition troops had been accounted for after the attack.

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Some Taliban leaders are participating in private talks with Afghanistan government officials to jumpstart peace talks, even as fighting endures in the 16-year war, the top US commander in the country said Wednesday.

IS, which is trying to make inroads in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq propaganda service.

Army Gen. John Nicholson insisted that the culling of the 70 jihadi leaders will seriously disrupt the various groups and their military capabilities.

"It's certainly a notable strike", he said, adding that several other senior and lower level commanders had been killed during operations over a 10-day period this month. "We think the meeting was to plan next steps".

Under surveillance by the Marines, the Taliban fighters returned to their Helmand stronghold, a center for poppy cultivation.

"As we continue the season of fighting and talking, we will continue to increase pressure on the Taliban and remain vigilant to opportunities for negotiated peace". That conclusion contrasts with assertions last fall by the American military that the Afghans, with USA support, had "turned the corner" and captured momentum against the Taliban, which it called fractured and desperate.

Police also said they had found a vehicle stuffed with explosives and guns at Kabul's worldwide airport near the interior ministry on Wednesday.

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