Afghan officials say 32 dead in clashes in west

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Battles between the Taliban and an Afghan security company left 32 people dead over the weekend, officials said Monday, as the country marked its 94th independence day from Britain with a small military parade and folk festivals in the capital.

Abdul Rahman Zhawandai, a spokesman for the provincial governor of western Farah province, said 11 members of the Afghan Public Protection Force and 21 insurgents were killed Sunday in a two separate gun battles. Officials often announce high insurgent death tolls in clashes that cannot be independently confirmed.

He said the Taliban attacked a convoy being guarded by the APPF, a state-run company that provides security for private companies and international organizations, in Farah’s Gulistan district. At the same time the Taliban attacked an APPF base in a neighboring district.

Zhawanda added that 17 APPF officers were wounded in the attacks. He had no further details.

In other violence, four officers were killed by a roadside bomb on Monday in eastern Kapisa province, an official said.

Kapisa spokesman Qadri said the four were killed as they returned to their base after defusing another bomb under a bridge near the capital. All four were in a single vehicle and were part of the police bomb squad, he added.

Meanwhile, President Hamid Karzai and Cabinet members attended a parade commemorating the day Afghanistan signed a treaty with Britain in 1919, making it independent.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a message that the date signifies Afghan sovereignty. Afghanistan is now striving to fully take control of its future as foreign military forces prepare to withdraw at the of 2014.

Afghan troops took control of security from foreign military forces two months ago, nearly 12 years after the American invasion to oust the Taliban.

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