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Afghan spy chief quits on dispute with President Ashraf Ghani

Civilians wait as Afghan security forces guard at the main gate of Kandahar civilian airport during a clash between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.

The death toll from a 27-hour Taliban siege of Kandahar airport has jumped to at least 50, officials said Thursday, after a conference in Pakistan shored up global support for reviving peace talks.

In a brazen attack, thirty seven people were killed, when Taliban dressed in military uniform attacked the Kandahar airport, triggering a 24-hour gun-battle, on Wednesday.

“A group of 11 terrorists attacked a bazaar and a school in the airport complex, took up positions in the area and blew themselves among civilians”.

After years of costly involvement, most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops pulled back from the front lines by the end of 2014, although a residual force of around 13,000 remains for training and counter-terrorism operations. The claim could not be verified, and the Taliban often exaggerate battlefield victories. The airport compound houses the joint North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Afghan military headquarters.

The heavy clashes which broke out Tuesday evening also left nine militants and eight security force members dead.

The report notes that one Afghan soldier was killed and three others wounded, adding that all the Taliban attackers were reportedly killed. The Afghan Defense Ministry is now reporting 37 killed, many civilians.

It is the biggest strike by the militants since late September when they seized the northern city of Kunduz and held it for days.

FIGHTING raged around Kandahar air field in Afghanistan yesterday as a regional summit agreed to restart peace talks with the Taliban.

The Taliban said it carried out the attack and was holding hostages, the BBC reported. He said Pakistan was ready to extend support to a meaningful process, wherein both the Afghan government and the Taliban could move forward in a spirit of accommodation and reconciliation.

The attack coincides with an official visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan to attend the fifth “Heart of Asia” conference, which is largely devoted to the security situation in war-torn Afghanistan. “The security forces retreated to the Afghan Army base which is two kilometers from the district center”.

The southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces, both notorious for growing poppy and militancy, have been regarded as traditional hotbeds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

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