KABUL, Afghanistan

At least 53 Taliban insurgents and 13 Afghan security forces were killed in the past 24 hours as violence flared-up across the country amid a pause in intra-Afghan peace talks.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that a major Taliban onslaught in the southern Kandahar province’s Arghandab and Khakrez districts was repulsed on Wednesday evening.

It added that 53 insurgents were killed and 15 others wounded in counter-offensives by Afghan forces.

The Taliban are yet to comment on the statement but have claimed responsibility for overrunning a security check post in the northern Kunduz province.

“7 gunmen [security forces] killed, 9 including 2 commanders [Aman & Majeed] detained & weapons/equipment seized. 2 reinforcement APCs also destroyed, multiple casualties caused,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

Elsewhere, a suicide car bombing aimed at an Afghan National Army base in the central Uruzgan province killed at least six soldiers, provincial council member Mohammad Kareem, told Anadolu Agency.

He added that the incident took place late on Wednesday evening in the provincial capital, Tarinkot.

A day earlier, Afghan government representatives and the Taliban announced they would begin crucial talks over the agenda of the peace parley in the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday.

The talks in Doha resumed on Wednesday after a 21-day pause announced by the two sides.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has welcomed the commencement of the second round of Intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha.

The two teams have made significant progress by finalizing the rules and procedures last month and have now reconvened to negotiate on substantive issues, said the Pakistani foreign ministry in a statement.

“We hope that the two negotiating teams will continue to engage with open-mind and will observe patience, prudence and perseverance to seize this historic opportunity for peace,” it said.

The talks are aimed at ending the nearly two-decade conflict following a landmark peace deal between the US and Taliban inked in February last year that calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

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