Over 120 Afghan civilians were killed and 350 others were wounded in attacks initiated by the Taliban over the past three weeks, said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the Office of National Security Council (ONSC), on Saturday.
“The attacks launched by the Taliban and their backers show a 33 percent increase compared with the second week of the holy month of Ramadan,” said ONSC spokesman Jawed Faisal.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Defense has said that the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) have returned to "offense mode" following an order by the president.
“Over the past few days we managed to conduct a series of powerful attacks on the enemy position and dealt major human fatalities on them,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.
President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday ordered the ANDSF to return to "offense mode" against the insurgents.
Ghani made the statement in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar.
At least 24 people, among them two newborn babies, were killed in an attack on the Dash-e-Barchi 100-bed hospital, which is home to a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Ghani’s move was met with mixed reactions.
On Friday, Ghani defended his new military stance against the insurgents, saying that his administration will never oppose efforts for peace and reconciliation, but warned that the Afghan armed forces deserve the right to defend the nation against threats and create conditions for a dignified peace.
Nevertheless, a number of political commentators and former Taliban members have said that both the Afghan government and the Taliban should swiftly end the hostilities and engage in dialogue.
“Both sides (Taliban and the Afghan govt) should agree on an Islamic solution and move forward,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
The Taliban have also claimed to have inflicted massive human casualties on the ANDSF.
“Being in "offense mode" is needed to foil their (Taliban) attacks, but it has some shortcomings because it can lead to an increase in the civilian casualties,” said Sher Mohammad Karimi, a military analyst.
“If Mr. Ghani intends to force the Taliban to peace by conducting offense operations, this will be a big mistake. He did not achieve this goal during the days we had the support of foreign forces, in the future also, this move will lead to further fatalities among the security forces,” said Assadullah Nadeem, a military analyst.
The Afghan government insists on military supremacy at a time when foreign parties in the conflict in Afghanistan--such as the US and Russia--have warned that Kabul’s harsher military action could pose devastating blows to the Afghan peace process.
However, the peace deal between the US and the Taliban in Doha had raised some new hopes among the Afghan people and their international partners that this time more concrete steps for a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan factions too, will be taken. But with the passage of time, attacks increased and both the Afghan government and the Taliban have accused each other of attempts to sabotage the peace process.
On Friday, The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad briefed the US State Department on the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the situation which has emerged in the country following Tuesday’s deadly attacks on a maternity hospital in capital Kabul.
Khalilzad stated that the recent violence has raised questions about the peace process, but he said that there is no alternative to pushing forward with peace.
Although the US, NATO, and other western countries in the past few months have persistently urged the Taliban to reduce violence, the Taliban have increased their offensives on the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) since the US-Taliban peace agreement on February 29.
On April 25, the figures provided by the Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) indicated that the Taliban had conducted an average of 55 attacks per day since the signing of the peace deal with the United States in Doha on February 29.
ONSC said that the Taliban conducted 2,804 attacks from the beginning of March to April 19, adding the group "does not remain committed to the reconciliation process that will help the country to end decades of war."