Taliban attack Afghan army bases, throwing peace talks into doubt

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering in Alingar district of Laghman Province on March 2, 2020 as they celebrate the peace deal with the Americans. (AFP)
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Updated 03 March 2020

Taliban attack Afghan army bases, throwing peace talks into doubt

  • Overnight attacks on government forces in 13 of the country’s 34 provinces
  • Intra-Afghan negotiations due to begin March 10 according to a US-Taliban deal signed in Doha on Saturday

KABUL: Unleashing a series of attacks on Afghan forces across the country, the Taliban said on Tuesday that they had ended a pact with the government and US-led NATO troops to reduce violence in Afghanistan, just days after signing the historic peace deal with Washington in Doha, Qatar.
In a statement, the group said more than 20 government soldiers and police officers had been killed in Kandahar — adjacent to the Helmand, Farah and Herat provinces which lie in the southwestern region — in one of at least 10 attacks.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Arab News that the Taliban had staged 33 attacks in 16 provinces since Monday, resulting in the deaths of six civilians.
He added that there were no immediate figures to ascertain the number of government troops killed in the attacks.
However, a spokesman for governor of Logar, which lies to the south of Kabul, said that five police officers had been killed in a Taliban attack in one of its districts.
“Government defense and security forces resorted to reciprocal acts for self-defense, killing eight of the enemies,” Rahimi said.
The attacks follow the release of a letter, allegedly issued by the Taliban’s military commission on Monday, which asks combatants to resume attacks on government forces since the violence-reduction week had ended.
When contacted by Arab News, however, Taliban spokesmen refused to comment on the letter.
The agreement for a seven-day reduction in violence, which concluded with the signing of a peace agreement with the US and Taliban in Doha on Saturday, was widely considered successful by soldiers and military and government officials.
“The reduction in violence was a confidence builder. We’re very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations. The US has been very clear about our expectations — the violence must remain low,” Gen. Scott Miller, America’s top general leading the US-led NATO coalition, said in a statement released late Monday night.
Part of the peace deal requires the departure of all foreign troops from Afghanistan in the next 14 months.
Speaking at a ceremony in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani taunted the Taliban for resuming attacks on Afghan troops.
“What sort of a jihad is this that they (Taliban) say we absolutely promise ... that they wont attack ... but kill Afghans and Muslims,” he said.
The resumption of attacks follows Ghani’s refusal to release 5,000 militants in exchange of 1,000 government soldiers held by the group.
Ghani said the exchange of prisoners could be discussed during an intra-Afghan dialogue which is set to begin on March 10.
Ghani and his government were not included in the peace talks because the Taliban views the Kabul administration as a “puppet of the West.”
The US has invested more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan since it led an invasion of the country after 9/11.
About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed since the invasion, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians.

 

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Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

Updated 01 June 2020

Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

  • Protesters managed to stop the truck and beat up the driver, who was later arrested by police
  • A New York City Police car earlier drove into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: A tanker truck drove through thousands of people marching on a Minneapolis highway to protest the death of George Floyd on Sunday before protesters dragged the driver from the cab and beat him, according to a Reuters witness and authorities.
It did not appear any of the marchers were injured when the truck raced toward them on I-35, blowing its horn, sending protesters scattering before coming to a stop, according to the witness and a tweet by the Minnesota Department of Public Security (MNDPS).
Police arrived soon after and arrested the truck driver, who was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, MNDPS said.
Video of the incident shows protesters swarming the vehicle before it comes to a stop.

Protesters hand over to police the driver of a tanker truck after he drove into a crowd marching on 35W north bound highway in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

“The incident just underscores the volatile situation we have out there,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz told a news conference, adding he did not know the motives of the driver.
It marked the second incident in as many days of a vehicle driving at people protesting Floyd’s death after a New York City Police car was captured on video on Saturday driving into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” MNDPS tweeted.
Video showed the truck had a logo on its side for “Kenan Advantage Group,” an Ohio-based transportation company.
The company said in a statement that it was informed of an incident involving one of its independent contractors in Minneapolis and it would be cooperating with investigating authorities.
MNDPS did not identify the driver but said the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were investigating the incident as a criminal matter.