Security

Violent attacks by Taliban surged after peace deal with US, UN says

AFP

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A man wearing a mask as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus cycles past a wall painted with images of US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (left) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) in Kabul April 5. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Violence surged in Afghanistan in the weeks after the United States and the Taliban signed a deal aimed at paving the way for a peace process, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday (April 27).

Afghans had enjoyed a period of relative calm ahead of the February 29 accord, but the conflict resumed almost as soon as the deal was signed, and the militant group has since rejected multiple calls for a ceasefire during Ramadan.

"The report tracks a disturbing increase in violence during March at a time when it was hoped that the Afghan government and the Taliban would commence peace negotiations," the UNAMA said in a statement accompanying the release of its quarterly report.

More than 500 civilians were killed and over were 700 injured during the first three months of the year, UNAMA said.

While casualty numbers rose in March, UNAMA noted that the overall toll for the first quarter of 2020 was down 29% from a year earlier, thanks to a lull in fighting in January and February -- including a week-long partial truce -- as US and Taliban negotiators ironed out a withdrawal agreement.

Under the accord, American and other foreign forces have pledged to quit Afghanistan by July 2021 provided the Taliban stick to several security guarantees and hold talks with the government.

However, fighting spiked in March as the Afghan government and Taliban disputed a number of issues.

"To safeguard the lives of countless civilians in Afghanistan and to give the nation hope of a better future, it is imperative that violence is stopped with the establishment of a ceasefire and for peace negotiations to commence," said UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons.

The Taliban rejected the figures in the report.

Recent attacks have mostly been limited to rural areas and small towns. Under the framework of the US-Taliban deal, the insurgents have agreed not to attack cities, and recent attacks have mostly been limited to rural areas and small towns.

Call for humanitarian ceasefire

The release of the UN report came hours after the US special envoy who brokered the deal with the Taliban called for the militants to implement a humanitarian ceasefire as Afghanistan confronts a worsening coronavirus crisis.

All sides should focus on fighting a "shared enemy", Zalmay Khalilzad said in a series of tweets Sunday (April 26) marking the start of Ramadan.

"The well-being of the Afghan people and the country itself depend on all parties devoting their full energies to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," the Afghanistan-born US negotiator said.

"Ramadan offers the Taliban an opportunity to embrace a humanitarian ceasefire to reduce violence and suspend offensive military operations until the health crisis is over."

Afghan officials to date have confirmed 1,703 cases of COVID-19 including 57 deaths, but with woefully limited testing available, specialists fear the true numbers are much higher.

Khalilzad called for an end to the dispute between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who has also claimed the presidency.

"Ramadan offers Afghan leaders, President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah, the opportunity to put the interest of the country ahead of their own," Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad's tweets come after similar calls last week from the Kabul administration and from NATO.

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The situation in Afghanistan and the insecurity in this country are up to the United States. If the United States wants, it can both make Taliban ready for peace within a week and force the Afghan government release Taliban prisoners, but the United States will not do so because it is taking revenge on the Afghan people because the United States has lost thousands of its soldiers in the 18 years war in Afghanistan. The United States wants the war to continue for another decade or two in Afghanistan. Neither Taliban nor the Afghan government matters for the United States. Now the United States has agreed with Taliban that the group will never threaten US security, and Taliban will sever their ties with all terrorist networks, which are on the US blacklist. So now it doesn't matter to the United States whether the current government or Taliban are in power in Afghanistan.

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Taliban have intensified their attacks because the peace agreement was not implemented, and the government should have released the group's prisoners for goodwill. Due to the stubbornness of the government, Taliban kill the poor Afghans every day. Neither Ashraf Ghani is caring about the killing of the national army and the ordinary people, nor is Mullah Baradar worried about the loss of his people. The government will ultimately release Taliban prisoners, but it would be better if it releases the prisoners soon.

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There is no doubt that Taliban attacks have increased after the peace agreement was signed, and these attacks will become more intense or severe because now Taliban consider themselves victorious of the 18 years war with the United States and NATO countries. They say that the world's biggest powers have been defeated against the group, so how Afghan government can resist against this group? Taliban do not recognize the current government and call it a puppet government, and I believe that after the withdrawal of American forces, they will overthrow this government in a few months and restore their Emirate system.

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America made a peace deal with Taliban and actually with Pakistan's army and intelligence which shows that Taliban and Pakistan's intelligence are victorious, while on other hand, they threw the sacrifices of Afghan National Army, National Police and the international coalition forces to trash, and they gave the flag of victory in the hands of Pakistan. For this reason, yesterday Pakistan said that Pakistan should be recognized as the hero of peace in the region. Pakistan and China are similar to each other in hypocrisy. China created coronavirus and spread it in the world, now she is selling out the anti-corona medicine and equipment. Pakistan also made terrorists, gave training to Al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban and other terrorist groups, made them destroy Afghanistan and intimidated the rest of the world with them, and made them kill hundreds of international forces and thousands of Afghan forces; however, on one side the United States and the world powers gave billions of dollars to Pakistan, and on the other side, forgive their debit, and if such ignorance of Americans continue, you will see that they will give the title of hero to mother of terrorists (Pakistan). Now the world claims that they should ask China about the reality of coronavirus, similarly, Pakistan's terrorist army should be asked why they have turned Afghanistan, Kashmir and the rest of the world a hot oven, kill innocent people and intimidate them, and if they still do not have a satisfying answer, the world powers should divide it and remove the region's cancer.

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