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Taliban no longer guaranteeing safe passage for Red Cross workers

By Sommer Brokaw
Taliban no longer guaranteeing safe passage for Red Cross workers
A photograph at the office of International Committee of Red Cross in Kunduz, Afghanistan, depicts the delivery of aid in October. Wednesday, the Taliban said Red Cross staff are no longer allowed safe passage into Afghanistan. File Photo by Najim Raheem/EPA-EFE

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Taliban has pulled protection for the International Red Cross in Afghanistan, as an attack Wednesday killed nine police officers and 35 soldiers, officials said.

The Taliban said it will no longer allow safe passage to Red Cross staff. A spokeswoman said the humanitarian organization is talking with militants to find a way to continue offering aid in the war-torn nation.

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The Red Cross scaled down Afghan operations late last year after seven staff members were killed. The organization said in a tweet Tuesday it's doing what it can to help people and organize water supplies for about 18,000 people.

The withdrawal of support comes at a time of ongoing violence in the country. A Taliban attack Wednesday killed 35 soldiers and nine policemen in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan, officials said.

Militants set fire to two adjacent checkpoints after the attack in Baghlan-i Markazi district, provincial council head Mohammad Safdar Mohseni said.

Taliban militants raided at least one military base and three checkpoints, officials added, and the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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The assault occurred one day after the insurgent group took over the Camp Chinaya military base in northern Faryab province, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 19 others.

Meanwhile, the Taliban said it's ordered militants out of Ghazni after five days of battle there. The attack killed hundreds, about 150 of whom were civilians.

The attack in Ghazni was the largest operation the Taliban has launched since a June truce brought fighting to a temporary halt.

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