KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Mortars slammed right into a residential space of the Afghan capital, killing eight individuals Saturday, hours earlier than outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are probably his final conferences with the Taliban and Afghan authorities negotiators attempting to hammer out a peace deal.
The assault in Kabul, which was blamed on Islamic State militants, additionally injured 31 individuals.
The assault got here as peace talks have been underway in Qatar, the place Pompeo advised Afghan authorities negotiators that the U.S. will “sit on the facet and assist the place we are able to” within the negotiations with Taliban militants.
Two Taliban officers advised The Related Press that the 2 warring sides have discovered widespread floor on which to maneuver ahead the stalled talks. The officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they aren’t approved to talk to the media, didn’t elaborate.
In Kabul, no less than one of many 23 mortar shells fired from two automobiles hit contained in the Iranian Embassy compound. Nobody was injured, however it broken the principle constructing, the Iranian Embassy stated in a tweet. Not less than 31 individuals have been harm elsewhere within the metropolis, based on the Afghan Inside Ministry.
The native Islamic State affiliate issued a press release claiming the assault that focused the so-called Inexperienced Zone in Kabul which homes international embassies, the presidential palace and Afghan army compounds, based on SITE Intelligence Group.
In Doha, Pompeo additionally met with the co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the peace settlement with Washington in February forward of the so-called intra-Afghan talks. The rebel group’s spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, tweeted that additional prisoner releases have been mentioned within the assembly, along with those who the 2 warring sides dedicated to forward of peace talks underneath the U.S. deal.
Naeem stated the Taliban additionally repeated their demand that Taliban leaders be faraway from the United Nations sanctions checklist. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed earlier Saturday issued a press release assailing the Afghan authorities for requesting the U.N. keep sanctions on Taliban leaders.
For many Afghans, the overriding concern has been a pointy rise in violence this 12 months and a surge of assaults by the Taliban towards Afghanistan’s beleaguered safety forces, for the reason that begin of peace talks in September.
The announcement this week that the USA will speed up its deliberate troop withdrawal has lent higher urgency to the intra-Afghan negotiations and to the requires a discount in violence. Washington introduced it will withdraw one other estimated 2,500 troops earlier than the center of January leaving about 2,000 American troopers in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have, nevertheless, held to their promise to not assault U.S. and NATO troops.
America has been urgent in latest weeks for a discount in violence, whereas the Afghan authorities has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire might be a part of negotiations.
There are a lot of throughout the Afghan authorities who need February’s peace deal scrapped. President-elect Joe Biden has beforehand advocated a small, intelligence based mostly drive in Afghanistan to give attention to counter-terrorism.
In the meantime, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the federal government’s Excessive Council for Reconciliation, condemned in a tweet Saturday’s assault on the capital, calling it a “cowardly” act. The council oversees the federal government’s negotiating group on the desk with the Taliban in Doha.
Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited on Tuesday Kabul for the primary time since he got here to workplace, condemned the assault and warned “it is very important be vigilant towards the spoilers who’re working to undermine the peace efforts.” He didn’t determine “the spoilers.”
Hours earlier than the assault rattled Kabul, a bomb connected to a automobile killed one safety personnel and wounded three others in an japanese neighborhood of the capital, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.
Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in latest months with more and more horrific assaults typically claimed by the Islamic State group affiliate.
Gannon reported from Islamabad.