14 Afghans Die in Separate Attacks

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Two separate militant attacks killed 14 Afghan security personnel on Saturday in the northeastern Badakhshan province and the capital of Kabul, officials said.

A roadside bomb killed 11 security force members in Badakhshan when it tore through a security vehicle responding to attacks on checkpoints in Khash district. Sanaullah Rohani, spokesman for Badakhshan's provincial police chief, said a local commander was among the dead, and that four militants were killed in the fighting.

An hour-long gunbattle also erupted in Kabul's Gul Dara district when insurgents attacked a police checkpoint, killing three police officers, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.

Both Afghan officials said the Taliban had carried out the attacks, although no one immediately claimed responsibility.

The Taliban on Saturday claimed an attack a day earlier that killed 10 policemen in the southern Zabul province. Afghan government officials said the Taliban ambushed an Afghan police convoy on Friday after setting off a roadside bomb.

U.S. forces had carried out two sets of airstrikes Friday against the Taliban in western and southern Afghanistan. These were the first U.S. strikes following a brief cease-fire declared by the insurgents for a major Muslim holiday last month.

Since the signing of a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement at the end of February, U.S. forces have only once before announced a strike against the Taliban, in defense of Afghan forces.

The uptick in fighting comes as U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad embarked on a new round of diplomatic trips to Qatar, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to a U.S. State Department statement Friday.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed to allow American soldiers to return home, ending America's longest military engagement.

The deal also calls for Afghans in Kabul and the Taliban to start negotiations to decide the country's future. Those negotiations have been delayed because of political feuding between Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and his rival in last year's presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah.