The Taliban outfits have extended their attacks on the Afghan security forces in at least six provinces of the country in the past few days even as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that Washington was at the threshold of sealing a peace agreement with the resurgent group to end the 18-year long conflict in the country.
The attacks on Afghan security forces in the relatively stable provinces of Kunduz, Takhar, Badakhshan, Balkh, Farah, and Herat came days after Mr. Khalilzad warned the Taliban during his discussions with the group’s senior negotiators in Doha that “violence like this must stop”. However, the Taliban continue to attack Afghan forces in various regions of the country.
“I raised the Kunduz attack in talks today, telling the Taliban that violence like this must stop. In addition, General [Scott] Miller visited Kunduz today [Saturday] and is focused on assisting Afghan forces to defend the city,” Khalilzad tweeted on Saturday following a brazen attack by the Taliban on Kunduz city in northeastern Afghanistan.
People from different parts of the country said there is a need for more attention to the security of different provinces.
“People are tired of all these episodes,” said Mirwais, a resident of the northern province of Balkh.
“The government should prevent Taliban operations to avoid the collapse of the center [of Badghis province,” said Mohammad Yasin Noorzad, a Badghis resident.
Military experts said the recent attacks on a number of strategically-important provinces in the north and northeastern regions are aimed at winning influence in the talks with the US.
“They have foreign support, but their next objective is that they want to transfer their nucleus to Central Asia while there are already many foreign terrorists in Badakhshan,” said Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, former deputy minister of interior.
Some Afghan soldiers on the battlefields in Kunduz said they are fully committed to defending the country against any types of threats.
“Over the past few days, the enemy launched major attacks on Kunduz which were repelled by the special units of the Afghan forces,” said a soldier in Kunduz.
“We are ready to defend our faithful Afghan nation till the last drop of our blood,” said a soldier in Kunduz.
Security officials said the Taliban does not have the ability to overrun any strategic point in the country.
“Today, the Taliban killed several people in Kunduz who were also Talib while their leaders in Qatar may be sleeping,” Acting Minister of Interior Massoud Andarabi said.
This comes after as the Ministry of Interior said in a statement that 20 Afghan security force members and five civilians were killed and 80 others, mostly civilians, were wounded in the Taliban attack on the city of Kunduz which continued for more than 24 hours.
The clashes left 56 Taliban fighters dead, the statement said. Taliban has not commented on their casualties in Kunduz battle.
The city of Kunduz came under attack for the third time in the last five years. The militants attacked the city from three directions at around 1:30 am on Saturday, according to Interior Ministry.
Taliban, meanwhile, claimed that Afghan forces suffered casualties in the clashes.
This comes as the US and the Taliban wrapped up the ninth round of talks in Doha in which the militant group is pushing for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.