Wounded Afghan men receive treatment at a hospital in Kunduz province on Saturday. Reuters
A fresh round of violence gripped Afghanistan on Saturday and explosions shattered weeks of relative calm in the capital Kabul, one day after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive.
The bloodshed comes as the US pushes for a peace settlement with the Taliban, and ahead of a new round of talks expected to take place in Qatar later this month.
In one assault, Taliban attackers were reported around the edges of the northern city of Kunduz, which the militants briefly captured in 2015.
Naeem Mangal, head of the Kunduz regional hospital, told AFP at least eight people were killed and 62 wounded.
The Taliban takeover of Kunduz in 2015 shocked observers, and marked the first time since their ouster in 2001 that they had been able to conquer a major city.
Late Saturday in Kabul, a central police station came under attack in the first major incident of its kind in several weeks.
Ministry of the Interior spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said at least one person was killed and six others wounded when two hand grenades were thrown at a military vehicle. No one immediately claimed responsibility.
After nearly 18 years of war, the US is trying to forge a settlement with the Taliban, and President Donald Trump is impatient for some sort of resolution.
US officials have already met several times with the Taliban and further talks are expected in the Qatari capital Doha later this month.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wants to send a delegation to "exchange views" with the Taliban, but even the process of picking delegates has become bogged down with squabbling and delays.
The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the militants have insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".
Their meeting came during a marathon multi-country tour by Khalilzad, who is to visit Qatar — the usual venue for talks with the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani hopes to showcase unity at the four-day meeting — known as Loya Jirga — that brings together politicians, tribal elders and others.
Afghan civilians are for the first time being killed in greater numbers by US and pro-government forces than by the Taliban and other insurgent groups, a UN report released on Wednesday revealed.
The somber statistic reflects what many say is a growing problem in Afghanistan's brutal war, in which civilians die not only in massive suicide bombings and insurgent attacks but also in the cross-fire as Afghan and Nato forces pursue militants.
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