KABUL – A string of Taliban attacks on Afghan security units killed more than 70 people, officials said Tuesday, in another show of force by the militants amid a renewed effort seeking possible peace talks.
The attacks, which began late Monday, underscored the Taliban's resilience and ability to strike heavily protected sites such as military bases. It also raised questions about any potential Taliban commitment to open dialogue with the Afghan government and its allies after 16 years of conflict.
In Oman, U.S. officials met with delegations from China, Pakistani and Afghanistan to try to revive peace talks with the Taliban. Previous attempts to open talks with the Taliban have stalled, most recently last year after former Taliban leader Akhtar Muhammad Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
On Tuesday, Taliban forces stormed a police compound south of Kabul, killing 41 people, including a local police chief, in a gun battle that lasted hours, officials said.
The commando-style raid in Gardez, about 80 miles south of Kabul, also injured about 100 people after two car bombs exploded outside a facility that serves as a command center for local police and a main training site for police recruits.
Taliban fighters then stormed the facility, taking over towers and firing indiscriminately, causing casualties among police and civilians who happened to be there on government business, officials said.
Najib Danesh, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said local police chief Toryalai Abadani was among those killed.
Earlier, a similar attack in the neighboring Ghazni province killed 25 government security officers and five civilians. A suicide bomber drove a vehicle into a government compound, followed by gunmen who entered the site. At least 48 people were also wounded, Gen. Murad Ali Murad, a deputy interior minister, told reporters.
Murad said a total 74 people were killed in the spate of Taliban violence that included smaller attacks.
Pakistan - which recently won some favor from the Trump administration after the rescue of American Caitlan Coleman and her family, held by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network for five years - was quick to condemn the attack in Gardez.
"Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations and reaffirms its commitment for continued efforts and cooperation for eliminating this menace," the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The attacks followed several attempted suicide bombings in Kabul during recent weeks.
The Afghan intelligence agency said Tuesday that it recently thwarted a Taliban plot to attack several spots in the city, including military facilities, army convoys and crowded areas.