Afghanistan: airstrike kills eight after US hails breakthrough in Taliban talks

An airstrike in has killed at least eight people – all believed to be civilians, residents said – hours after the US announced a breakthrough in peace talks with the Taliban.

Donald Trump said on Thursday there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the on a reduction of US troops in Afghanistan.

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The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said with the Taliban in recent days, and the defence secretary, Mark Esper, said they had negotiated a proposal for a week-long reduction in violence.

But on Friday a vehicle carrying civilians was targeted in an airstrike in the eastern province of Nangarhar, according to residents, who added that among the eight killed was a child. Taliban insurgents have a strong presence in the region.

A spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the incident but did not say who the victims were.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said 11 civilians were killed in the incident.

Afghan, Taliban and US sources said over the last 48 hours that a deal to curb violence was on the verge of implementation. Details about when that was set to begin were not immediately clear but a Taliban official said it would be this week.

While US and Taliban negotiators pressed on with meetings in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban and the Afghan government also reported fighting on the ground over the last 24 hours.

An airstrike on Thursday evening killed a senior Taliban commander and eight others in northern Balkh province, the Afghan defence ministry said.

The Taliban’s Mujahid said the insurgents had killed six Afghan soldiers, including two officers, in an attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province.

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Source : theguardian[dot]com