KABUL, Afghanistan – A three-day cease-fire marked by violent attacks, the majority of which were alleged by the Islamic State, came to an end on Sunday, prompting calls for renewed peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban political spokesperson, said Saturday that negotiation teams from the government and the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban refer to their deposed regime, met briefly in Qatar. They reaffirmed their commitment to bringing the war to a peaceful conclusion and called for the restart of stalled negotiations, he added.
Even though the Taliban and the government agreed to a cease-fire in honor of the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, fighting in Afghanistan continued unabated. A mosque bombing north of the capital killed 12 worshippers, including the prayer chief, on Friday. A total of 15 people were injured. The Taliban denied any involvement and pointed the finger at the government’s intelligence department.
The Isis affiliate claimed responsibility for the mosque attack in a statement released Sunday, claiming that its fighters planted an explosive device in “a worship place for disbelievers Sufis,” killing the “apostate Imam,” or prayer leader. According to the announcement, 40 worshipers were injured.
Isis announced further assaults in the last two weeks, claiming the destruction of 13 electrical grid stations in many provinces in reports on its associated websites. The stations source electricity from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, both in Central Asia.
According to Sanger Niazi, a government spokesman, the attacks also disrupted power supply in nine provinces, including Kabul. Local warlords, who were seeking security money from the government to defend stations in areas they controlled, were also suspected of being behind some of the damage.
Because of the apparently unstoppable violence in Afghanistan, citizens and neighboring countries are concerned that the final withdrawal of US and NATO troops will result in even more turmoil.
Washington has stated that it needs the last soldier out of Afghanistan by September 11 at the latest, but the withdrawal is moving rapidly, with a Western official familiar with the process estimating that it will be finished by early July. Since the particulars of the withdrawal aren’t being made official, he spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Wang slammed the withdrawal as hasty, warning that it would have a “serious” effect on the Afghan peace process and jeopardize regional stability. He urged the UN to play a bigger role.