Amid war and violence, Taliban leader sends Eid ul Fitar message

Despite optimisms expressed by the US peace envoy who restlessly shuttles between capitals to convince the militant group to reduce violence and commit to the agreement signed between Washington and the Taliban leaders, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzadah, the Taliban leader, in his recent message, has urged Taliban commanders on the field to stick to their objectives.

The deadly war in Afghanistan continues to claim lives on daily basis. Dozens of Afghan security forces, civilians and Taliban fighters were killed over last couple of weeks across the country. The Taliban fighters continue to target public facilities such as mosques and hospitasl though their leaders had made an oral commitment to reduce violence and avoid targeting public infrastructures.

On Tuesday, May 19, over ten people were killed and six others were wounded while offering prayer in mosques in the northern Parwan and the eastern Khost provinces, according to Afghan security officials.      

Nine members of the People Uprising Force—a pro-government militia—were killed and six others were wounded in Taliban attack in the northern Takhar province on Tuesday night, May 19.

“The attack targeted the uprising forces led by Malek Ahmad Tatar and it lasted for one hour,” said Khalil Asir, spokesperson for police chief of Takhar province.

Adel Haidar, spokesperson for Khost police chief, confirmed to Kabul Now that three people were killed and a child was wounded in Sabri district of the province after unknown armed men opened fire at them.  

“In continuation of their crimes, the Taliban terrorists have shot down prayers tonight in Chenar Khalzayee village of Charikar, capital of Parwan, martyring eight prayers and wounding five others,” spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior wrote on his twitter late Tuesday night.

At least three people were killed and 22 others wounded in the same mosque attacks which targeted worshippers in the eastern provinces of Paktika and Paktia in previous days.

Five people, including two policemen, were killed in separate explosions and shelling on Wednesday and Thursday in Ghor and Ghazni provinces.

21 Taliban militants have been killed in two separate airstrikes conducted by Afghan air force on Wednesday night, May 20, in Manjik district of the northern Jawzjan province, according to Mohammad Haneef Rezai, spokesperson for 209 Shahin Military Corps.

The clashes continue while Taliban leader, in a felicitation message sent on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, has called on the Taliban fighters to “consolidate” their ranks and pay close attention to their objectives.

The Taliban continue to claim that they would remain committed to the agreement but reality on the ground has proven the opposite so far.

“I urge American officials not to afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognized bilateral agreement between us and you,” the Taliban leader said in his message.

He has said that the group remains committed to the agreement.

But the Afghan government has described Hibatullah’s message as meaningless. Sediq Sediqi, spokesperson for the Afghan government, has said that the statement is “of no value” unless the Taliban do not reconcile with the Afghan people.

A blame game and escalation of violence continue between the government and the Taliban while US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, tried the bring the two sides on peace table.

Khalilzad, in a series of tweets on Wednesday, May 20, said that in meetings with Mullah Baradar, deputy leader of the Taliban, he has raised America’s concerns about Taliban attacks in Kunduz, Ghazni, and Khost and discussed the Taliban concerns about President Ghani’s order of offensive attacks against the militants. “On violence, I told the Talibs violence by all sides must fall. Innocent Afghans have borne far too much and for too long the costs of this war,” he stated.

In subsequent meetings with President Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, in Kabul, the US envoy said that they have agreed to reduce violence and urged on an urgent need of reduction in violence by all sides.