Security

EU demands immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, condemns Taliban attacks

By Salaam Times and AFP

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A member of Afghan security personnel inspects a building a day after a car bombing in Kabul on August 4. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

BRUSSELS -- The European Union (EU) on Thursday (August 5) condemned the Taliban's latest deadly attacks and demanded "an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire".

In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU commissioner for aid and crisis management Janez Lenarčič accused the Taliban of breaking their promise to seek negotiated peace.

"This senseless violence is inflicting immense suffering upon Afghan citizens and is increasing the number of internally displaced persons in search of safety and shelter," they said.

"The Taliban's military offensive is in direct contradiction to their stated commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the Doha peace process," the statement continued.

"Violations of principles of international humanitarian law and human rights continue to rock the country, in particular in Taliban-controlled areas, such as arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of civilians, public lashing of women and the destruction of infrastructure," it said.

"Some of these acts could amount to war crimes and will have to be investigated. Those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible must be held accountable."

The statement singled out three recent attacks in particular, an attack on the United Nations (UN) office in Herat, an offensive in Lashkargah that killed 40 civilians and an assault on the defence minister's residence in Kabul.

"The EU calls for an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire to give peace a chance," the EU officials stated.

Lies of the Taliban

The Taliban are now challenging Afghan government forces in several large cities in a reversal from earlier statements claiming that the militants would not target cities.

"We won't attack cities or carry out military operations in capitals of 34 provinces including Kabul," Shahabuddin Delawar, a member of the Taliban negotiating team, said at a news conference in Tehran July 7.

And a spokesman for Taliban leader Amir Khan Motaqi claimed in a July 13 Twitter post that the militant group did not intend to target cities -- an apparent lie amid repeated attempts to seize provincial capitals.

The Taliban bomb-and-gun attack on Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi Tuesday was one of the biggest in Kabul in months, bringing violence to the capital after intense fighting in the south and west of the country.

Mohammadi survived unhurt.

Civilian casualties soar

The UN July 26 warned that Afghanistan could see the highest number of civilian deaths in more than a decade if the Taliban's offensives across the country are not halted.

During the first six months of 2021, some 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,254 wounded, said a July 26 UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report -- a 47% increase compared to the same period last year.

"Particularly shocking and of deep concern is that women, boys and girls made up close to half of all civilian casualties," the report said.

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