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Dozens Die In Afghanistan's Ghazni Province


Afghan officials say 15 civilians and 10 elite force members have been killed in Ghazni Province, as a days-long battle continued November 11.

Fighting in Jaghori district -- an area inhabited mainly by Shi’ite ethnic Hazaras -- erupted on November 7 when Taliban militants attacked the district. The central government reacted by sending special forces units to back up local militia forces.

Police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat said six members of the security forces were also wounded on November 11.

Most Hazara belong to the Shi'ite branch of Islam. The Taliban, which are Sunni and largely ethnic Pashtuns, have been accused of committing human rights violations against the group during their oppressive 1996-2001 rule.

On the other side of the country, in the northern province of Baghlan, at least 14 members of the Afghan security forces and civilians were killed and eight others were injured in Taliban attacks, provincial Governor Abdulhai Nemati said.

The ongoing violence comes as U.S. special envoy Zakmay Khalilzad prepared for fresh talks aimed at convincing the Taliban to take part in peace talks with Kabul to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on November 11. Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Kabul, also is scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office.

A Taliban delegation met with Khalilzad in Doha in October to discuss ending the Afghan conflict.

That was followed by a Russia-led international gathering in Moscow on November 9 that included Taliban representatives.

A recent U.S. government watchdog report said Kabul's control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local forces made little or no progress against the Taliban.

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) cited NATO's Resolute Support mission as saying this summer's casualty toll for Afghan forces had been worse than ever.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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