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Watchdog alarmed by escalating hostilities in Afghanistan

Continued violence hampers peace talks

AT News

KABUL: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission sees rising violence and hostilities as a blow to ongoing peace talks between the government and Islamist militant Taliban.

Escalating hostilities is very alarming and could hamper intra-Afghan peace talks if violence remains high throughout Afghanistan, head of AIHRC’s publications Zabih Farhang said Saturday, suggesting both the warring factions to start reducing violence and considering ceasefire.

As the government and Taliban are engaging in preliminary phases of peace negotiations, violence remains high across the country. Defense Ministry said Saturday that 30 Taliban militants had been killed in an air raid in KhanAbad district of Kunduz. Provincial authorities say at least 12 civilians had been killed and 10 more injured in the aerial raid. Taliban claim 23 civilian deaths in KhanAbad district skirmishes. Defense Ministry has said claims about civilian casualties will be investigated.

In a roadside bombing, 20 more civilians including children and women were injured in JaniKhil district, Paktika authorities said. Seven of the wounded are in critical condition, according to provincial security chief spokesman, Shah Mahmoud Arian. Paktika province lost its security chief Mohammad Asef Tokhi in a similar roadside bomb on Saturday.

Paktia province also saw a tragedy after its provincial council deputy chief, Ayub Gharwal, was assassination on Saturday morning.

In the north, Mazar-e-Sharif city was rocked by a bomb explosion on Saturday. Authorities said a girl was killed and three civilians were injured in the bombing.

This is as the negotiating teams of the Afghan government and the Taliban are grappling with minor issues before actual talks start. Freelance journalist Sami Yusufzai who is privy to peace talks says the Afghan government is trying to convince the Taliban representative to refrain from addressing it ‘Kabul administration’, which the Taliban continue to refuse. “Peace talks are plagued by entrenched differences,” he argued, “that’s why they have not finalized the agenda for the first round of intra-Afghan negotiations.” Yusufzai believes there is a ‘trust vacuum’ as both sides continue to infuriate each other by using ‘mean words’ against each other.

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