The Taliban insurgents have announced that they would target Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The announcement came while on last Saturday the United States and Taliban signed a peace deal which will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
Talking to BBC Persian Service, a Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that their operations and offensives have been resumed as the reduction in violence period was over. He, however, underlined that the Taliban militants will not attack foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The announcement by the Taliban comes after the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani said that the Afghan government did not have commitment to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners whereas in the deal signed between the US and the Taliban reads that 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released in exchange for release of nearly 1,000 ANDSF prisoners who are in Taliban captivity.
On Monday, March 02, Gen. Scott Miller, Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, urged the Taliban to live up to the agreement and expectations. “The United States has been very clear about our expectations—the violence must remain low,” he was quoted as saying by spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Col. Sonny Legget.
As a test period to check the Taliban’s political leadership influence over the group’s field commanders and fighters, the US, Afghan government, and the Taliban had agreed to decrease the level of violence up to 80 percent across the country for seven-day period, February 22-28. Though the violence decreased significantly in the country, the militants did not hesitate to attack Afghan forces and civilian employees at least in 16 provinces during the truce, according to a monitoring report released by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Organization (AIHRC). The report detailed that 36 people, including 14 civilians, were killed and 65 others, including 42 civilians, were wounded during the seven-day truce.
A spokesperson for the Taliban, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, has claimed on his twitter account that the Taliban have killed dozens Afghan forces and pro-government militias in Helmand, Sar-e-Pul, Zabul, and Urozgan provinces.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, Nasrat Rahimi, has also confirmed that the Taliban have launched 33 attacks in 16 provinces on ANDSF and civilian targets over past 24 hours. According to Mr. Rahimi, six civilians have been killed and 14 others wounded in the attacks. He added that eight Taliban militants have been killed and 15 others arrested by ANDSF. “The Taliban must stop killing civilians, otherwise security forces will suppress them to defend themselves and the people,” he further warned.
Mohibullah Sherzai, spokesperson for governor of Maidan Wardak province, confirmed to Kabul Now that the Taliban have abducted 55 civilians in Chick district of the province over past two days. He added that they were abducted by the militants to be exchanged in prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
In reaction to Taliban’s move, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has called for “continued reduced violence.” It has asked the parties to maintain and enhance an environment conducive to the intra-Afghan negotiations.
European Union’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan said in a tweet posted today, March 03, that resumption of violence is against the spirit of the agreement signed in Doha. “This is not the time for posturing, but the phase to build trust and move forward in a constructive manner,” he added