Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the special prosecutor who led the Breonna Taylor investigation, has been hard pressed to keep a juror from speaking publicly about the grand jury proceedings.
On October 8, an attorney for the anonymous juror argued before a judge that all recordings, transcripts, and files be released, and that the juror be allowed to “talk about their service” on the grand jury. In response, Cameron filed a motion to prevent the juror from speaking publicly while he appeals the case.
While Cameron is worried “this disclosure would irreversibly alter Kentucky’s legal system,” activists and attorneys for Taylor’s family have long been worried that Cameron, and prosecutors in general, have too much power.
After spending six months investigating the shooting in which Taylor was killed in her own home, he only recommended charges of wanton endangerment to just one of the three officers who fired a total of 32 shots into her apartment on March 13. That single charge was the only one jurors were allowed to consider — whether former officer Brett Hankison endangered neighbors when he shot through Taylor’s apartment, not whether any of the officers committed murder or even manslaughter in regards to Taylor.
Cameron also didn’t immediately admit that this was the only charge he presented to jurors. And after a judge ordered Cameron to release the grand jury recordings earlier this month, some argued that he heavily relied on witnesses that supported the officers’ version of events.
For example, Cameron’s team presented testimony from a witness who said he heard the officers knock on Taylor’s door that night, but did not present testimony from the dozen other witnesses who said police had not knocked, according to attorneys for Taylor’s family. All of this has left advocates casting doubt on Cameron’s process — and questioning the vast amount of latitude he’s been afforded.
And the doubt isn’t without reason — prosecutors are rarely ever checked or disciplined for their decisions. According to Kami Chavis, a professor of law at Wake Forest University and director of the school’s criminal justice program, prosecutors have broad discretion, discretion that’s rarely ever challenged. And grand jury proceedings, a body of peers tasked with determining whether to bring charges against an alleged perpetrator, are often done under secretive pretenses. While there’s good reason for grand jury proceedings to be secret, Chavis says, cases like Taylor’s, in which public distrust is high, demand transparency.
I talked to Chavis about what this level of power means in Taylor’s case and for similar cases involving police use of force. Our conversation has been edited for clarity.
From the day that Daniel Cameron released the grand jury decision on October 2, people began to claim that there was a lack of transparency in the proceedings. Can you start off by talking about how grand juries are designed — should proceedings be transparent?
When you think about grand juries in general, the grand jury is not a transparent institution. There’s a lot of secrecy around the grand jury. When you go back to the founding of our government, historically, the idea was that you wanted to have that secrecy there to protect the accused, for several different reasons. For example, if the allegations were not sustained, you didn’t want them to be embarrassed in some way. And the secrecy was there to protect witnesses, because if a witness is going to say something, and then you later needed that witness for trial, you wanted to make sure that they were protected. So the grand jury is not a transparent institution. It’s not set up to be that way.
And that can cause some tension when we’re thinking about these cases where the police is the accused. Transparency is important there because we’re thinking about how police officers police communities. They are vested with the authority to use legal force. So it’s really important that we understand how and when and whether such force is justified.
What kinds of powers can prosecutors exercise?
Prosecutors have discretion. I’d really like to emphasize that here. The discretion that prosecutors have is vast. Prosecutors have a great, incredible amount of power in our criminal justice system. They can decide who to charge, what charges to bring. They can decide whether to offer a plea deal or not. They can also make recommendations. They can’t decide, but they can make recommendations about sentences. All the way through, they have discretion to do all of these things.
As for Cameron, is what he’s done here much different from how other prosecutors handle grand juries?
I think that what we see here is not unlike what we’ve seen before with prosecutors. They are ethically bound to bring only the charges where there’s probable cause. But at the same time, they are not obligated to bring any charges. That’s really important to remember.
We don’t really know why he didn’t present [certain] evidence. We can presume that he may have had evidence that he chose not to present. Unfortunately, there is an overlay of mistrust here from the beginning that’s warranted because of some of the failures that have happened. We say in criminal justice that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. But it doesn’t mean they’re going to indict a ham sandwich for murder. They’re going to indict based on the evidence that they have.
I think the community is just incredulous that there were no direct charges brought against the officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor. I think a lot of that hinges on the fact that you’ve got a witness, apparently, that said that they did hear the officers knock and announce. What would be interesting is if there were witnesses that were available that said, “No, we didn’t hear that.”
[Author’s note: Though the police secured a no-knock warrant to enter Taylor’s home, officers claim that they did indeed knock and announce. Yet, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says that he did not hear the officers identify themselves before they tore down the door with a battering ram. Upon hearing this, Walker said he shot at the intruder to defend himself and Taylor. The one witness who has said he heard the officers knock and announce, previously said they did not hear police knock and announce. 12 other witnesses say they did not hear the officers knock and announce, according to Taylor family attorneys.]
Then there’s a whole other issue about why the heck do you need to execute this warrant on the house at night anyway? If you know that there’s evidence at the property, you can wait for these people to leave. You can do it in broad daylight where you can be easily seen. There are circumstances when a court will issue a no-knock warrant, because it’ll be futile to knock or they’re worried that a suspect may get away. None of that was present here.
So what they’re now saying is that “No, it actually wasn’t a no knock warrant,” that they did knock. That’s a really important fact. And unfortunately, when I look at this case and how horrible it is, if they did indeed knock and he had notice, then … it’s really hard. The other sad thing is that you don’t know that if he had even opened the door if the same thing would have happened or not.
Now a second grand juror has come forward saying they want to speak publicly. Can you comment on whether it is unprecedented for jurors to come forward saying, “Hey, I think this prosecutor might have been biased”?
This is very unusual. It signals the fact that the jurors were not comfortable with what they experienced during the grand jury proceedings and the way they were portrayed. At the end of the day, the jurors coming forward asking for permission to speak doesn’t change the evidence that was presented to them. But it’s important, because prosecutors, as officers of the court, should be truthful, whether they are in front of cameras, or not.
Most prosecutors just elect to say nothing and conduct their business within the courtroom. But the fact that the jurors are alleging that what Cameron is saying isn’t matching up, it questions his integrity. We have the expectation that public servants, like prosecutors, are going to act with integrity. More transparency around this particular case is necessary because there’s a lot of distrust in the community about the police officers and about a possible cover-up. The fact that they initially charged [Kenneth Walker] and then they didn’t charge him — there are a lot of irregularities here.
There’s generally been a movement to diversify our country’s body of prosecutors. But here we have a case where the prosecutor is a Black man. Can you just comment on how diversity in terms of skin color can be misleading?
First, I do think diversity is important because our country’s institutions should reflect the country’s makeup, our country’s population. It can’t just be that all the people that have this power are of one group.
But to me, what is more important is that we have prosecutors who have a sense of integrity and justice. And when you have a person that has those ideals, they’re going to be able to recognize if bias is playing a role. They’re going to be able to recognize that if similarly situated criminal offenders are treated differently.
So who’s to say if Cameron acted with integrity or not? Is that always going to be a partisan decision?
When I teach my students, I say prosecutors are supposed to seek justice. But different people have different views of what justice is. So maybe to Cameron, maybe it is unjust that these officers went there and were fired upon and this unfortunate mistake happened. Maybe to him this is justice. Seeking justice means different things to different people.
Do prosecutors ever actually face consequences? Right now, who can review what happened in these grand jury proceedings and determine that there was bias, that something was done incorrectly? Or who can determine whether Cameron acted without integrity for mischaracterizing the proceedings before the public?
You’re picking up on something very interesting here. There are very little checks on the power and discretion of a prosecutor. There are some rules of being an ethical lawyer and there are boundaries. But typically, when they step outside of those lines, they face very little consequences. You can even see that in a lot of cases about prosecutor misconduct, they will refer to them as “the government” instead of the name of the prosecutor.
It’s pretty rare that a prosecutor, even if they’ve engaged in some misconduct, that they’re disbarred. We saw that a few years ago in the Duke lacrosse case where Mike Nifong got disbarred for some pretty egregious behavior. [It was determined Nifong withheld exculpatory DNA evidence that could have exonerated defendants.] But at the time, it was still unusual. A lot of that is because they have so much discretion that goes unchecked. Also, they receive immunity. There are a lot of prosecutors that bring charges but ultimately the person is not found guilty and you don’t get to sue the prosecutor. I mean, I think that’s right.
Something else to look at is the Innocence Project’s statistics on wrongful convictions. You can look at all the people who have been exonerated and the reasons why. Sometimes it’s because prosecutors use perjured testimony and very rarely have those prosecutors received any type of discipline.
Looking forward, thinking within this current system, what kind of short-term and long-term reforms do you think the country should focus on to improve the grand jury process and to hold prosecutors accountable? Or does the current state of Taylor’s case prove that this is just too big and too shoddy of a system to try to reform?
As I mentioned before, there are several irregularities with this case, from the no-knock warrant to how information was released from the police department. I don’t understand why certain information didn’t come out sooner. For example, the public was first told there was no body camera footage. But there’s body camera footage! So I think the prompt review and release of such material could be helpful.
Our criminal justice system is clearly imperfect. But I think we can still aspire to the ideal that we want. Some of the reforms are not that difficult to do. After the George Floyd murder, a lot of cities changed their use of force policies. I think Breonna Taylor’s case has shed a lot of light on these no-knock warrants and how dangerous they can be. And so people don’t do them now. These things are not impossible.
We know what we need to do; we just need to have the will to do it. We know we can change trainings, change use of force policies, and put in whistleblower protections so that officers don’t watch their buddy with their knee on someone’s neck. We know that every situation doesn’t require an armed first responder. We know that we need to keep better records of what’s happening and who’s doing it. We know that there is evidence of racial bias in our system. We need to stop pretending that this is so hard, and that we don’t know what to do.
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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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