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Taliban keep ties with terrorist groups, Atmar says

Unrest has gripped Afghanistan, exacerbating civilian woes – with tens of thousands having been displaced. With armed forces ceding ground to the Taliban without demur and hostilities intensifying against backdrop of a security vacuum left by Americans, people have been mobilizing in droves against the advancing insurgents across the embattled country

AT News

KABUL: Afghan foreign minister says the Taliban have not fulfilled their promise to the United States in a February agreement and still keep up close relationship with international terrorists groups.

“The Taliban have not cut ties with international terrorism,” Mohammad Hanif Atmar told an online meeting on Tuesday attended by members of the UN Security Council. “They have taken refuge not only in al-Qaeda, but also in other terrorist groups in the region, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” he reckoned.

The minister also said that the Taliban had pledged to reduce violence in an agreement they signed with the United States on February 29. But not only has the violence not diminished, he said, the Taliban have intensified the war to a level not seen in the past 20 years.

Atmar’s concern about the insurgent’s stratospheric terrorist links was earlier echoed by the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons. In a speech to members of the Security Council on the same day, she said there was more activity on the battlefield than at the negotiating table. She also pointed to an entrenched fear about a lack of unity among Afghan politicians. She warned that the Taliban could take control of more territories if the leadership loophole is not closed.

Unrest has gripped Afghanistan since US-led forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan early last month. With the security forces ceding ground to the Taliban and hostilities intensifying against the backdrop of a security vacuum left by the Americans, people have been mobilizing in droves against the advancing Taliban across the embattled country, exacerbating civilian woes.

The situation has alarmed human rights watchdogs too.

In a statement, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission described escalation of the war, increase in civilian casualties and loss of lives a major damage to peace efforts.

“Escalation of war and violence are aggravating civilian casualties and the destruction of Afghan institutions on a daily basis. This situation is leading to an economic siege of cities,” said Shukrullah Mashkur, a spokesman for the commission.

At a meeting of the Security Council in Kabul on Tuesday, the head of UNAMA’s office in Kabul said that more than 50 districts in Afghanistan had fallen to the Taliban since May. Other miscellaneous reports say the situation is even worse suggesting that the Taliban rein over more territories.

But the Afghan government has said that the armed forces have recaptured some districts over the insurgents.

However, there are daily reports of more districts being overrun by the Taliban with fighting and siege continuing. The fighting has exacerbated internal displacements. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees said last week that more than 18,000 families had been displaced in the past three months. Amnesty International estimates the total number of internally displaced people in Afghanistan at more than four million.

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