Security

Roadside blast kills 7 civilians in Kunduz as Afghan leaders push for talks

AFP

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Kunduz residents last November 28 prepare to bury men, women and children who were killed after their vehicle struck a suspected Taliban roadside bomb in Imam Sahib District, Kunduz Province. [Hedayatullah]

KUNDUZ -- Seven civilians were killed by a roadside bomb linked to the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday (June 2), even as authorities pressed for peace talks with the militants.

Overall violence across much of Afghanistan has dropped, however, since May 24, when the Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire to mark the Eid ul Fitr holiday.

The latest blast struck a small truck carrying a group of labourers late Monday (June 1) in the volatile district of Khanabad, Kunduz Province.

No group claimed responsibility, but Kunduz provincial spokesman Esmatullah Muradi pointed the finger at the Taliban.

"The Taliban usually plant roadside bombs to target security forces, but their bombs usually kill civilians," he told AFP.

Two of six Afghans wounded in the blast were in critical condition, said district chief Hayatullah Amiri.

Militants killing civilians

Last November 27, a roadside bomb, believed to be planted by Taliban militants, killed at least 15 civilians when they were on their way to a wedding from Khanabad District to Imam Sahib District.

President Ashraf Ghani had welcomed the Taliban ceasefire offer and authorities responded by announcing that about 2,000 Taliban prisoners would be released in a "goodwill gesture" with a view to kick-starting peace talks.

The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, said on May 30 his team was ready to begin negotiations "at any moment".

Late June 1, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been pushing for peace talks to begin, held a video conference with top officials in Kabul including Ghani and his first deputy, Amrullah Saleh.

While Saleh highlighted the importance of the ongoing drop in violence and the need for holding on to a ceasefire, the two sides discussed the future steps needed to bring peace in Afghanistan, Ghani's office said in a statement.

The issue of the release of Taliban prisoners and the venue for the intra-Afghan peace talks were discussed in particular, it said, adding that Pompeo reiterated Washington's support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

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The Taliban coming to peace discussion is good way for solving the war problem in Afghanistan. But, there is the tension of limites for women and there contrast with women. They liberty women never can accept a society with authority of Taliban such 1997 years.

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These people were killed in the village of Jangal Bashi where Taliban are present, and the road to that village has been completely mined by Taliban, and the vehicles have not been traveling on the road for ten years. These workers were from Badakhshan province and they had come to Khan Abad district of Kunduz province for laboring and harvesting or reaping, but unfortunately they were martyred because a mine hit their car. I am also from the same village and it has been 15 years since we left there due to insecurity, and for about ten years now, even Taliban have not been able to travel on the road of Jangal Bashi and they are commuting through the sub routes because the road is completely mined. This is not the first time as people have lost their lives on this dangerous road. In the past also, a large number of people on this road had encountered the landmines and were martyred. Last year, a landmine hit a car on the road of Jangal Bashi, where four people, including the car driver were killed.

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