KABUL -- Violent attacks in Afghanistan surged by 50% in recent months even as the government and the Taliban launched unprecedented peace talks in September, a US watchdog warned Thursday (November 5).
Despite brief lulls during two temporary ceasefires over the summer, fighting has raged across the country as the Taliban launched devastating attacks on provincial capitals and security installations, with fears that the violence may jeopardise negotiations.
Attacks on Afghan forces and civilians were 50% higher in the three months to the end of September than in the previous quarter, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report.
876 civilian deaths in 3 months
"Overall enemy-initiated attacks this quarter were also characterised as 'above seasonal norms'," SIGAR's quarterly report to the US Congress added.
The watchdog reported 2,561 civilian casualties in July-September, including 876 deaths. The number of casualties was 43% higher than in the prior quarter.
Little progress has been made in meetings between Afghan government negotiators and the Taliban since the talks started on September 12, with negotiations stalled over the basic framework of talks and an agenda still undecided.
"Continued high levels of violence can threaten the peace process and the agreement and the core understanding that there is no military solution" to the Afghan conflict, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated a separate deal with the Taliban in February, has warned repeatedly.