Taliban main factor for the foreign forces presence, Ghani

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Monday that Taliban insurgents are the main reason for the continuing presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Ghani, speaking at the annual opening ceremony of the Afghan parliament, said that the Afghan government asked for the extension of the foreign military mission largely because of the ongoing militant threat.

"Those Taliban who are killing our people are the enemies of our nation, as are Daesh (Islamic State group) and other terrorist groups," Ghani told the parliamentarians. He claimed that there were 20 different militant insurgent groups, including the Taliban, operating in the country.

Meanwhile, an extended battle was underway Monday between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces in the southern province of Kandahar's Nash district, according to Zia Durrani, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial police chief.

The attack started Sunday and continued into Monday, Durrani said, adding that at least six police officers have been killed and around 15 wounded. He estimated that 15 Taliban fighters have been killed and more than 30 wounded.

"The reinforcements have arrived, but right now the clash is near the Nash district headquarters," said Durrani.

Qari Yosouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Elsewhere in the eastern province of Nangarhar, at least four police officers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The attack took place early Monday morning in the Achin district, Khogyani said, adding that eight of the attackers have been killed and five police officers wounded.

There has been no claim of responsibility but Khogyani blamed the local affiliate of the Islamic State group. IS has been active in Afghanistan's eastern provinces, launching several similar attacks in recent months.

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