IS Suicide Bomber Kills 20 in Afghanistan

An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 20 people in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, including a Taliban commander, while in southern Helmand province a government commando unit freed 54 people from a Taliban jail, according to officials. The stepped-up activity in Afghanistan comes as Washington considers a Taliban demand for direct talks in hopes of jump-starting a negotiated end to what is now the longest military engagement by U.S. forces.

A Taliban official in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar where the Islamic insurgency maintains an unofficial office told The Associated Press they wanted direct talks and were ready to put troop withdrawal as well as any outstanding concerns the U.S. might have on the table but so far no official request to open negotiations has come from Washington.

Speaking on condition he not be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, he said de-listing Taliban leaders from U.S and U.N. watch lists and recognizing their office in Doha, the Qatar capital, would aid progress in talks should they begin.

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