Khalilzad hopes to end Afghan war this year

At least six people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in Kunduz

In Kabul, the Afghan High Peace Council, a government body created years ago to talk peace with anti-government forces, condemned the Taliban announcement, saying it brought into question the insurgents' sincerity in seeking a peaceful end to the war.

Hours after the Taliban announced their so-called spring offensive, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has held five rounds of talks with Taliban members, said the announcement is "reckless" and is "indifference" to the demands of Afghans for peace.

The militant group, according to the statement, launched multi-pronged offensive with two vehicle bombs followed by gunfight on Friday night to capture Shirzad district in Nangarhar province, but the security forces' sharp reaction forced the insurgents to retreat.

"The continuation of war is no one's interest", it said.

The removal of Taliban's leaders name from UNSC black list happened when the second meeting of the Taliban and Afghan leaders is due to take place in Doha.

At least six people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in Afghanistan's northern city of Kunduz in an assault by Taliban fighters, according to a local official.

The Taliban effectively controls almost half of Afghanistan and has continued to launch frequent attacks on security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months after almost 18 years of war.

The Afghan government and the Resolute Support mission also reacted to the announcement.

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"The Taliban made an announcement this morning that they choose violence over peace".

The Taliban, who effectively control almost half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of talks with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.

The Taliban blamed Ghani's government and the United States for the violence, accusing them of the indiscriminate killing of civilians in a bombing campaign.

A Taleban statement said the objective of the Al-Fath ("Victory") offensive was "eradicating occupation, cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption, establishing an Islamic system along with defending and serving our believing fellow countrymen".

"Our jihadi obligation has not yet ended", the Taliban said. Referring to ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban, the Kabul government urged pro-peace elements within the insurgents to shun violence and bloodshed.

In the western Ghor province, the Taliban ambushed a police convoy on Friday afternoon, killing seven security forces and igniting a battle that raged for several hours, said Abdul Hai Khateby, the governor's spokesman.

The Ministry of Defense in a statement said the offensive has been announced by the Quetta Shura, Taliban's leadership council, and that by making such and announcement, the group wants to give morale to its fighters after "facing many defeats".

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