Zalmay Khalilzad

US envoy condemns Samangan attack as NDS vows retaliation against Taliban

Condemning the Taliban deadly attack against a facility of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Aybak, capital city of the northern Samangan province, the US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad has termed it as “unacceptable” that will strengthen opponents of the Afghan peace process. The attack has sparked national and international condemnations with the NDS vowing a “retaliation” against the militant group.

The Taliban car bomb attack on the facility of the country’s intelligence agency, NDS, killed 11 intelligence operatives, including a female member, and injured 63 others including women and children. According to Abdullatif Ibrahimi, governor of Samangan, the attack ended after two Taliban suicide bombers were shot dead by Afghan security forces.

Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, has claimed that around 70 employees of the NDS were killed and wounded in the attack.

President Ghani accused the Taliban of resorting to violence and murdering the people to get “more concessions” in the negotiations. He, however, again called on the Taliban to cease the violence and embrace the call for peace raised by the government, the Afghan people, and that of the international community. “He added that escalation of violence and war will lead to undermining the recent progress in the peace process,” read a press release issued by the Presidential Palace late on Monday, July 13.

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and the UNAMA have also reacted against the Taliban attack on NDS facility in Samangan province.

“This attack in a provincial capital is an escalation that violates the understanding in our agreement with the Taliban to reduce violence and minimize civilian casualties,” said Ross Wilson, US Chargé d’Affaires to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in a series of tweets posted today, July 14. Urging the Taliban to demonstrate their “stated commitment” to peace, he added that the US will continue to hold the Taliban accountable and press for the completion of prisoner releases, reduction in violence, complete delivery on counter-terrorism commitments, and the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

Reacting to the attack, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, called on the warring parties to take feasible precautions to prevent civilian harms. The UN mission added that reports indicate “dozens of civilians” were injured in the Taliban car bomb attack.

Khalilzad insistence on “no American” casualty in Taliban violence

Scores of Afghan people have lost their lives in an unprecedented raise of Taliban violence across the country since the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in Doha, capital of Qatar, on February 29. Afghanistan recorded the deadliest week in past 19 years after the peace deal with a total of 989 casualties, including civilians, during the period, according to a statement released by the Office of the National Security Council on June 22.

Though Khalilzad acknowledges the continued loss of Afghan lives in “large numbers” as the result of high level of recent violence, he highlights in his tweets that “no American has lost her/her life in Afghanistan to Taliban violence.” His insistence on no American casualty to the Taliban violence comes just a day after a US soldier was confirmed death in what the US Department of Defense described as “non-combat related incident” occurred in the southern province of Kandahar.

As in his previous tweets, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Khalilzad, again reiterated that the US approach will remain “condition based” and all sides must reduce violence. But when it comes to responding the Taliban’s raise of violence – repeatedly described as violation of the US-Taliban peace deal by US officials – no action has been made against the militant group to contain their escalated militancy, except some airstrikes with almost no impact on the ground.

NDS vows retaliation

On the other hand, the NDS has vowed in a statement released today, July 14, that they will take the revenge of the deadly attack from the Taliban. “Operatives and combat units of this directorate (NDS) have been positioned in ready to act mode and will soon launch retaliatory offensives to suppress the Taliban and foreign terrorist groups,” part of the NDS statement reads.

The NDS further accused the Taliban of cooperating with foreign terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, and violating their international commitments.