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Fifty Afghan Taliban leaders killed in rocket strike, U.S. military says

Fifty Afghan Taliban leaders killed in rocket strike, U.S. military says

"We will release more details later", interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP, in a statement echoed by police.

Scores of Afghan militants have been killed in an artillery rocket strike in the country's south, the US has claimed, with the Taliban launching their own attack on government forces on Wednesday.

"These strikes represent one of the largest blows to Taliban leadership in the a year ago", U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Resolute Support commander, said in the press release.

"A lot of the diplomatic activity and dialogue is occurring off the stage, and it´s occurring at multiple levels", General John Nicholson said in a teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon.

Under surveillance by the Marines, the Taliban fighters returned to their Helmand stronghold, a center for poppy cultivation.

The latest violence coincided with a USA government report that found few signs of progress in Afghanistan this year, with fighting spreading and hundreds of casualties from militant attacks.

Both groups have also expanded their footprint in the countryside.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kabul province and in Samangan.

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Special forces rushed to the scene after the attackers detonated what police said was a vehicle bomb at the first checkpoint leading to the ministry, then tried to fight their way inside.

Danish did not provide information on any civilian casualties. Last year, the Interior Ministry moved into a new building, surrounded by numerous security barriers and close to the Kabul global airport and several military compounds.

Six months into the strategy, Nicholson said, "we had the elements of a peace proposal outlined by the Taliban in an open letter to America and a formal peace offer by President Ghani", followed by other communication channels.

"National and worldwide leaders have been clear - victory in Afghanistan will be a political reconciliation", Nicholson added. The Taliban have not confirmed the talks, but have offered talks since Trump ruled them out. However, a U.S. government watchdog agency recently reported that it saw few signs that this strategy was working, while acknowledging that the Afghan security forces are getting better training.

Though the Taliban has yet to respond to the offer, Nicholson said there is a "robust dialogue going on inside the Taliban". But when pressed during the news briefing, Nicholson said he was still confident in the trend suggested by the data. His spokesman, Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, said earlier that more than 50 were killed but that an exact count has not yet been established.

In the eastern Logar province, Taliban suicide bombers attacked a police station, killing at least three policemen.

He called it an example of how the United States military is using expanded authorities granted as part of the Trump administration's new regional strategy for fighting the Afghanistan war, allowing United States forces to take a more active role in combat.