Taliban attacks in 18 Afghan provinces amid Doha talks
Taliban attacks were reported across 18 provinces in Afghanistan as face-to-face talks between representatives of the militant group and the Kabul government started in Doha in an effort to resolve the decades-old conflict in the war-torn country.
The Ministry of Defence on Saturday said the majority of the attacks were reported in provinces of Kunduz, Helmand, Balkh, Jawzjan, Faryab, Ghor, Badghis, Herat, Ghazni and Uruzgan, reports TOLO news.
“Over the past 24 hours, the Taliban group launched attacks on Afghan security and defence forces in 18 provinces. But the forces repelled the attacks and inflicted heavy casualties on the group,” said Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadza.
Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement said that as part of a goodwill gesture, the group on Saturday released 22 Afghan soldiers in Helmand province.
The intra-Afghan talks opened in Doha on Saturday at a ceremony attended by senior officials from different countries, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, reports Xinhua news agency.
The ceremony was inaugurated by Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation.
A 21-member Afghan team, headed by former intelligence chief Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, is meeting the Taliban delegation to find a negotiated solution to Afghanistan’s prolonged war.
The talks were part of the historic agreement signed between the US and the Taliban on February 29 also in the Qatari capital.
They were to be held 10 days after the deal was signed but it kept getting delayed over the prisoner release issue between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The government claimed that it has freed all the 5,000 Taliban inmates, while the militant group has also completed the release of 1,000 government prisoners.