Mortars slammed right into a residential space of the Afghan capital, killing eight folks Saturday, hours earlier than outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are possible his final conferences with the Taliban and Afghan authorities negotiators attempting to hammer out a peace deal.
The assault in Kabul, which was blamed on Islamic State militants, additionally injured 31 folks.
The assault got here as peace talks had been underway in Qatar, the place Pompeo instructed Afghan authorities negotiators that the US will “sit on the aspect and assist the place we are able to” within the negotiations with Taliban militants.
Two Taliban officers instructed The Related Press that the 2 warring sides have discovered widespread floor on which to maneuver ahead the stalled talks. The officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they aren’t licensed to talk to the media, didn’t elaborate.
In Kabul, at the very least one of many 23 mortar shells fired from two automobiles hit contained in the Iranian Embassy compound. Nobody was injured, but it surely broken the primary constructing, the Iranian Embassy stated in a tweet. Not less than 31 folks had been damage elsewhere within the metropolis, in line with the Afghan Inside Ministry.
The native Islamic State affiliate issued an announcement claiming the assault that focused the so-called Inexperienced Zone in Kabul which homes international embassies, the presidential palace and Afghan army compounds, in line with SITE Intelligence Group.
In Doha, Pompeo additionally met with the co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the peace settlement with Washington in February forward of the so-called intra-Afghan talks. The rebel group’s spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, tweeted that additional prisoner releases had been mentioned within the assembly, along with people who the 2 warring sides dedicated to forward of peace talks beneath the US deal.
Naeem stated the Taliban additionally repeated their demand that Taliban leaders be faraway from the United Nations sanctions record. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed earlier Saturday issued an announcement assailing the Afghan authorities for requesting the U.N. keep sanctions on Taliban leaders.
For many Afghans, the overriding concern has been a pointy rise in violence this yr and a surge of assaults by the Taliban towards Afghanistan’s beleaguered safety forces, for the reason that begin of peace talks in September.
The announcement this week that the US will speed up its deliberate troop withdrawal has lent larger urgency to the intra-Afghan negotiations and to the requires a discount in violence. Washington introduced it might withdraw one other estimated 2,500 troops earlier than the center of January leaving about 2,000 American troopers in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have, nonetheless, held to their promise to not assault US and NATO troops.
America has been urgent in current weeks for a discount in violence, whereas the Afghan authorities has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire might be a part of negotiations.
There are various inside the Afghan authorities who need February’s peace deal scrapped. President-elect Joe Biden has beforehand advocated a small, intelligence primarily based power in Afghanistan to give attention to counter-terrorism.
In the meantime, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the federal government’s Excessive Council for Reconciliation, condemned in a tweet Saturday’s assault on the capital, calling it a “cowardly” act. The council oversees the federal government’s negotiating staff on the desk with the Taliban in Doha.
Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited on Tuesday Kabul for the primary time since he got here to workplace, condemned the assault and warned “it is very important be vigilant towards the spoilers who’re working to undermine the peace efforts.” He didn’t determine “the spoilers.”
Hours earlier than the assault rattled Kabul, a bomb connected to a automobile killed one safety personnel and wounded three others in an jap neighborhood of the capital, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.
Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in current months with more and more horrific assaults usually claimed by the Islamic State group affiliate.