Fifteen Taliban members thought to be responsible for a spate of assassinations in Kabul and beyond were captured on Tuesday, Afghanistan’s primary intelligence organisation announced.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the men were tasked with carrying out assassinations of security and defence forces as well as prominent political figures in Afghanistan.

“Members of this group would operate in teams of four and five, and track movements of targets who are prominent and political figures in Afghanistan before carrying out their attacks,” a spokesperson for the NDS shared.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said 533 civilians have been killed and 412 others wounded in targeted attacks in the last six months. Among these were two of AIHRC’s own employees, 24-year-old Fatima Khalil and driver Ahmad Jawid Folad, who were killed in an explosion targeting their vehicle on June 26.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) provided equally grim figures, stating that at least 70 civilians were killed and more than 140 injured in the last two weeks of September.

“Although they haven’t claimed it, the Taliban are killing civilians, including children and women every day, in planned attacks targeted towards government employees,” Tariq Arian, spokesperson to the MOI told The National, adding that it is likely the spike in assassinations were Taliban’s attempt to pressure the government in the ongoing peace talks in Qatar.

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