KABUL (Pajhwok): Casualties on a single day last week outnumbered the total casualties of the previous week as foreign forces began leaving Afghanistan.
Last week major happenings
- US, China, Russia, Pakistan meet Afghan negotiating team
- Beginning of troops withdrawal from Afghanistan
- US transfers high mobility artillery rocket system to Afghanistan
- US will continue counter-terrorism campign post troops withdrwal
- Afghan official vows to meet every challenge
- Over 200 civilians killed and wounded last week
- Public: stop fighting
Attacks and civilian casualties:
Last week, 24 attacks happened in 15 provinces — Logar, Nangarhar, MaidanWardak, Kunar, Ghazni, Herat, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Laghman, Faryab, Ghor and Helmand.
Around 70 civilians were killed and 163 others injured in these attacks.
The most deadly attack was the one in Logar province that took place on Friday evening on a guest house.
Twenty-four people were killed and 112 others injured in the attack. According to sources local police were among those killed but the majority of the victims were civilians.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Government and the Taliban have not spoken about last week casualties.
From the past three weeks, civilians’ casualties have been on the increase.
In these attacks, security forces and Taliban also suffered casualties but Pajhwok did not publish the figures because enough information with authentic sources was not available to support their casualty figures.
Last week President Ashraf Ghani condemned growing violence in the country. He said with the withdrawal of foreign forces the Taliban will have no logic to continue violence and told the Taliban: “What is your message? Whom you are killing? What do you destroy? And how will you build it tomorrow?”
Efforts for peace:
The Turkey conference on Afghan peace was scheduled for April 24 but it was delayed after the Taliban said they would not participate any of such conferences until withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan. Sources close to the Taliban said that release of the insurgent group’s prisoners and removal of the Taliban leaders from UN blacklist were conditions of the Taliban to participate in Turkey conference.
The Extended Troika on a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan during a meeting with the Afghan government’s negotiating team and Taliban team has urged Kabul to engage openly with the Taliban on a negotiated end to the war in the country. (The extended Troika consists of the US, Russia, China and Pakistan.)
US Special Representative for Afghan peace, Zalmai Khalilzad also met with the two teams last week.
High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR) in a statement said that the Troika members have urged acceleration of peace efforts while the Taliban say the representatives of the four countries discussed removal of their leaders from blacklists, release of their prisoners, situation of Afghanistan and peace.
However, the Afghan government stressed that it would not release any Taliban prisoner until the declaration of a truce by the insurgent group.
This comes as US and NATO officials last week said that they started withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, which would be completed by September 11 according to US president. However, the Taliban say that foreign forces should have completed their withdrawal by May 1, a deadline agreed between the Taliban and US in Doha agreement.
US also directed some of its employees in its embassy in Kabul to leave Afghanistan and continue to work from outside the country.
Possibility of increased violence:
US officials have said that the Taliban will mount pressure on the Afghan government after the withdrawal of their forces and there was also a possibility of civil war in Afghanistan. However, they said that US forces would defend Afghan army from major attacks until their full withdrawal.
However, the Taliban said that they may attack foreign forces if they failed to leave Afghanistan by May 1 deadline.
But US officials say that they would deploy 650 special troops to Afghanistan and a missile system to guard their withdrawing forces from any attacks.
US media reported that America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief William Burns recently paid an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, and told Afghan officials to continue counterterrorism efforts in the country after withdrawal of their forces.
ZalmaiKhalilzad had said that the Taliban may face opposition from US and its allies if the group pursued military way for grabbing power over a political settlement to end the current conflict.
However, Afghan officials said that they were ready to manage any complicated situations in the country.
Stop war: People
A rally in Paktia province said that the ongoing war in Afghanistan had no justification and the Taliban should declare a ceasefire. Hundreds of people in a gathering in Balkh province also supported peace and ceasefire. Women’s rights activists in Balkh said that withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghnistan before a peace agreement would trigger dangerous consequences.
People’s Peace Movement also launched a campaign against war in 24 provinces of the country and said that there was no need for war when foreign troops leave.
Since the beginning of 1400, 585 civilians have been killed and wounded