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Dozens killed, wounded as Taliban attack NDS office – Samangan

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(Last Updated On: July 13, 2020)

Taliban militants attacked the office of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Aybak city, the capital of Samangan province, killing 11 people and wounding 70 more, local officials confirmed.

The officials said that a suicide attacker detonated an explosive-laden vehicle at the entrance gate of the NDS office at around 10:50 on Monday.

Following the blast three assailants engaged in fighting with the Afghan forces

The Taliban militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group in a statement claimed that dozens of the NDS employees were killed or wounded in the incident.

The attack comes as the group signed an agreement with the US in Qatar, pledging not to carry out attacks the Afghan forces in the big cities of the provinces.

Meanwhile, President Ghani condemned the attack and called it “Criminal, anti-human and terrorist act”.

Ghani added that the Taliban attack meant to insist on conflict and continue violence.

“ President Ghani called on the Taliban to stop fighting and killing Afghans and accept the call for peace of the government and people of Afghanistan and the international community to end the war and establish peace. 

He added that escalating violence and war would undermine progress in the peace process.

“Today’s Samangan attack killing & injuring civilians is absolutely unjustifiable. Taliban’s insistence on continuous violence is jeopardizing the unique opportunity for peace. I call on TB to cease bloodshed & engage constructively at the negotiating table, “said Stefano Pontecorvo, the NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan.

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Fears of Taliban takeover post troop withdrawal are overblown: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2021)

The US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday predictions that the Taliban will quickly overrun Afghan government forces and conquer Kabul once U.S. and coalition forces have withdrawn are unduly pessimistic.

Testifying before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Khalilzad said: “I personally believe that the statements that their (Afghan) forces will disintegrate and the Talibs will take over in short order are mistaken.”

His comments came as committee members expressed concern that President Joe Biden’s decision to fully withdraw all troops by September 11 will lead to chaos and intensified civil war.

AP reported that Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and withdrawal critic, asserted that there is “zero chance” the Taliban will abide by the commitments their leaders made in a February 2020 agreement with the Trump administration, which included engaging in sustained peace negotiations and severing all forms of cooperation with and support for al-Qaida.

“It seems all but certain the Taliban will try to overrun the country and return it to a pre-9/11 state after we have withdrawn,” McCaul said. 

“They’ve already ramped up their attacks, taking new territory and bases since the (Biden) announcement was made. Without a military presence in country, the U.S. is giving them room to deepen their relationship with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, who may seek to launch external attacks on us and our allies from the country once again.”

Khalilzad argued that the Taliban have reason not to push for a military victory and instead pursue a negotiated political settlement that could give them international legitimacy and removal from certain American and United Nations sanctions. 

“They say they seek normalcy in terms of relations — acceptability, removal from sanctions, not to remain a pariah,” Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad said the U.S. military withdrawal is proceeding “so far so good,” and added: “We expect that to continue.” 

He said diplomatic efforts are underway to seek agreements with neighboring countries to position U.S. counterterrorism forces within strike distance of Afghanistan to be able to respond to future threats.

 

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Five military facilities handed over to Defense Ministry: CENTCOM

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2021)

U.S. Central Command said Tuesday that about 115 C-17 military cargo loads of material have been flown out of Afghanistan and more than 5,000 pieces of equipment have been turned over to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction.

According to a statement issued by CENTCOM, the U.S. has officially handed over five facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. 

“U.S. Central Command estimates that we have completed between 13-20% of the entire retrograde process,” the statement read.

The foreign troops withdrawal process started officially on May 1 and according to U.S. President Joe Biden it will be complete by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. 

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NSA says all leverage possible needed to get Taliban to talks tables

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2021)

Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib said Tuesday that all forms of leverage must be used to get the Taliban to actively engage in peace talks.

Mohib’s comments come amid an uptick in attacks by the Taliban in many province across the country following the three-day Eid ceasefire.

On Monday, Mohib discussed the Afghan peace process with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a phone conversation.

According to Mohib’s office, Wang assured Mohib of China’s full support for peace, stating: “China wants an independent, sovereign and unified Afghanistan.”

Wang noted that a political settlement is the only viable solution for ending the long-term war in Afghanistan.

Mohib’s office stated that the two sides identified terrorism as a common threat that both sides should fight.

“Wang Yi offered that China can increase its efforts, including regionally, in support of peace in Afghanistan,” the organization said.

Meanwhile, Mohib told Wang that “Afghanistan believes all levers of influence should be used to induce Taliban to engage earnestly in peace, including UN sanctions and other avenues where China’s unique capabilities can be helpful.”

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