Sept. 1 (UPI) — The Taliban attacked a second Afghan city in as many days as a U.S. negotiator said a peace deal with the group was near.
About 30 to 40 Taliban fighters attacked the city of Pol-e-Khomri from multiple directions at about 2 a.m. Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
Pol-e-Khomri lawmaker Nasim Mudabber said Taliban fighters were hiding in civilian homes and using residents as “human shields.”
“Unfortunately, we have casualties, but we don’t have a number yet,” Mudabber said.
The attack came after the Taliban attacked the city of Kunduz on Saturday, clashing with Afghan forces.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said Sunday that the entire city of Kunduz had been cleared after dozens of Taliban fighters, 20 members of security forces and five civilians were killed.
In the midst of the attacks, U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said he was traveling to Kabul for consultations on a peace deal after a round of talks in Doha.
“We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies or any other country,” he wrote.
The two sides have been working toward a deal that would have the United States withdraw troops from Afghanistan in exchange for an assurance that the Taliban and other terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda would not launch attacks from the country.