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Insurgents have taken control of a district headquarters in western Farah province

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Insurgents have taken control of a district headquarters in western Farah province

Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi confirmed in a statement that the militant group had captured the district headquarters and seized military equipment, adding that "15 enemy personnel were killed and several others injured in the battle". As the fighting went on, an air strike was called in and killed around 25 insurgents, he said.

Local television station 1TV reported that at least 10 police officers, including the chief of police, were killed in the Taliban attack.

Speaking at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Abdullah said the National Unity Government made the Taliban an offer that could ensure lasting peace and stability in the country, but that the group had not yet responded to the call.

But the fighting in Farah underlines the continuing strength of the movement, which controls or contests nearly half the country and has so far rejected peace overtures from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The fighting in Anar Dara came days after local officials said the Taliban had inflicted heavy losses on Afghan special forces in another district of Farah, an isolated region where the government has long struggled to control.

The pressure on Farah has grown as USA air strikes and Afghan army operations have inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban fighters in neighbouring Helmand Province the main opium region in Afghanistan and a heartland of the insurgency.

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The province is a centre of opium cultivation and poppy farmers are often taxed by the Taliban to help fund their fight against security forces.

In a separate report, seven civilians - including three children and two women - were killed on Sunday night in eastern Nangarhar province when their vehicle was hit by a grenade, said Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

"We renew our deep sympathies and condolences to the Afghan people and families of the victims", said the OIC Secretary General.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that Taliban militants had carried out the attack.

With the approach of milder spring weather, security officials have said they expect fighting to surge as the Taliban, fighting to drive out worldwide forces and re-impose their version of strict law, step up pressure.

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