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Afghan forces launch fresh offensive against Taliban

At least 39 militants killed in northwestern province bordering Turkmenistan

Afghan forces launch fresh offensive against Taliban

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan 

Afghan forces on Thursday opened a fresh front against the Taliban in the northwestern Badghis province bordering Turkmenistan, killing 39 militants, officials and local media confirmed.

Badghis governor's spokesman Jamshed Shahabi told Anadolu Agency the operation was launched in the restive Ab Qamari district, saying 28 militants were wounded.

He said three soldiers were also killed and four others injured in the exchange of fire.

The operation would be extended to Qades, Muqar, and Bala Murghab districts as well, he added.

The fresh push comes as Turkmenistan authorities have launched a campaign to register army reservists -- nearly all men under 50 -- amid concerns about militants in neighboring Afghanistan, the local Azadi radio reported a day earlier.

It quoted an official from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) -- which includes Russia and several other former Soviet republics but not Turkmenistan -- saying there was a danger of a "powerful extremist group" appearing along Afghanistan's borders with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Separately, the Taliban have issued a second statement in connection with the stalled peace process. The rebels charged the U.S. for aiming long-term stay and continuation of the war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's National Security Adviser Hamdullah Muhib, and the spy chief, Masoum Stanikzai, held a joint meeting with ambassadors of China, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Kabul Thursday to discuss joint measures for combating terrorism and regional cooperation.

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