Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Taliban Offensive Kills 6 in Kunduz, More Than 50 Injured

Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district in 2017 Enlarge Image Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district in 2017. Getty Images
Jeannette Daniel | 15 April, 2019, 13:28

"Taliban's push to continue war and corruption in Afghanistan is happening at a time that the country's and the world's religious scholars have called Taliban's fight against the people of Afghanistan an "evil", not Jihad", the statement said.

Taliban massive offensive to capture Shirzad district in the eastern Nangarhar province has been repulsed and the militant group fled away after leaving 27 bodies behind, said a statement of the provincial government released on Saturday.

The Taliban announced their spring offensive, called Operation Al-Fatha, on Friday, declaring that their "Jihadi obligation has not ended yet".

Separately, a major early-morning Taliban attack on northern city of Kunduz sparked heavy fighting with Afghan forces in the area, resulting in casualties on both sides.

Peace talks are due to resume in Doha next week between US envoy Khalilzad and Taliban officials.

"The continuation of war is no one's interest", the palace said. "Many Talibs including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement", he said on Twitter. Referring to ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban, the Kabul government urged pro-peace elements within the insurgents to shun violence and bloodshed.

The Taliban, who effectively control almost half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of talks with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.

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Peace talks with the Taliban kicked off a year ago, as US President Donald Trump vowed to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan.

In a series of tweets released hours after the Taliban announced a new spring offensive, the USA chief peace negotiator also urged Pakistan and Qatar to condemn the Taliban's announcement, arguing that an increase in violence will only hurt the peace process that these two states were backing.

Many Afghans are anxious that in America's push for a settlement, concerns for human rights and democracy will ultimately be cast aside and the Taliban will return to power and reimpose their extreme version of Sharia law.

The Taliban have long refused to speak officially with Kabul, dubbing the government a "puppet" of the West, and the militants have insisted that government officials are attending only in a "personal capacity".

No such drawdown has happened yet and the United States still has about 14,000 troops in the country, almost 18 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban.

The spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though fighting nowadays continues unabated throughout the year.

"Taliban peace interlocutors" names have been removed from the UN Security Council black list for nine months, the group's spokesman claimed on Friday.

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