Violent Attacks Plague Afghanistan as Peace Talks in Doha Slow

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DOHA, Qatar — Violence continued unabated throughout Afghanistan on Saturday, as negotiators from the warring sides remained slowed down by disagreements over a framework for talks every week after historic negotiations started in Doha.

More than a dozen civilians have been feared lifeless in a single airstrike by Afghan forces within the North. The deaths got here as every week of discussions nonetheless had not finalized the foundations for negotiations over contentious points, like a cease-fire and the type of a future authorities. The gradual tempo highlighted how sophisticated the trouble to finish to the Afghan battle will possible be.

Officials from either side mentioned that whereas that they had resolved most points on how the negotiations needs to be carried out, they have been caught on which college of Islamic thought needs to be used for resolving disputes in a manner that respects minority sects in Afghanistan.

The civilian deaths have been a stark reminder of the toll of every day’s delay within the talks.

Citing United Nations figures, Roland Kobia, the European Union particular envoy for Afghanistan, mentioned the violence ranges over the previous 5 weeks had been “the highest in the last five years.”

The bloodiest assault on Saturday occurred within the Khanabad district of northern Kunduz Province. Local residents mentioned the Afghan forces had carried out an airstrike focusing on a Taliban gathering, with few preliminary casualties. But when native residents gathered to extinguish the ensuing hearth at a close-by home, the plane returned for an additional strike that killed greater than a dozen civilians.

“I have lost four family members, two uncles and two cousins,” mentioned Jawad, 25, who wouldn’t give his full identify however mentioned he lived within the Sayed Ramzan village that was focused.

Afghan officers in Kunduz initially mentioned that they had “killed and wounded 30 Taliban” within the strikes, however later admitted privately that civilians have been among the many casualties. They wouldn’t focus on precise numbers.

“Initial reports indicate no harm was inflicted upon civilians,” the protection ministry insisted in an announcement.

Also on Saturday, in southeastern Paktika Province, a deputy police chief was killed in an explosion whereas delivering help to his forces. And in the identical province, a marriage convoy struck a roadside bomb, wounding 19 individuals, together with the bride.

One important current shift in rebel ways, significantly in focused bombings and assassinations, is to not declare duty for the assaults, permitting the Taliban to exert stress whereas sustaining deniability for the violence.

U.S. navy officers additionally confirmed {that a} dozen rockets have been fired at two U.S. bases in southern Afghanistan over the previous week, together with six on Kandahar Airfield on Saturday and 6 on Sept. 11, the day earlier than the Doha talks started and the 19th anniversary of the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center.

“While we are still assessing the source of the attack, these actions are not consistent with the U.S.- Taliban agreement and have the potential to put the peace process in jeopardy,” Col. Sonny Legget, a spokesman for the American-led and NATO coalition in Afghanistan mentioned in confirming Saturday’s Kandahar assault.

A Taliban spokesman wouldn’t verify whether or not they have been behind both the airstrike on Sept. 11 or the one on Saturday.

At the talks in Doha, the chief negotiators from either side have referred to as for persistence for what they are saying will likely be a sophisticated course of. Both sides have largely agreed to about 20 gadgets on how the negotiations needs to be carried out, most importantly committing to persevering with with the talks even when issues get sophisticated on the battlefield.

But the edges stay caught on which college of Islamic thought to make use of for resolving disputes. While either side largely agree on utilizing the Hanafi college of Islamic thought, one of many 4 main Sunni colleges that can be the muse of the present Afghan Constitution, they’re at odds on a formulation that doesn’t alienate different sects, significantly the Shia.

The disagreement is essentially political. The Taliban need to attraction to its hardline base with solely a point out of the bulk Sunni college. The Afghan authorities’s negotiating crew, whereas agreeing on utilizing the Hanafi college of thought, insists on a caveat that protects the unity of Afghanistan as an inclusive republic.

The talks are going down in an surroundings of deep distrust.

Afghan officers suspect the Taliban desire a swift political settlement, fearing that the insurgents are looking for to expire the clock on the withdrawal of the American troops, which is anticipated to be accomplished within the spring. Taliban officers say the federal government, which acquired a brand new five-year mandate final spring, is dragging out the peace course of to finish its time period in workplace.

The negotiators are additionally up in opposition to the excessive expectations of a civilian inhabitants crushed by the burden of the battle.

“A week ago, an IED went off and my wife lost her leg,” mentioned Mohammad Shah, 27, who appeared fatigued outdoors a hospital in Kabul.

“Civilians are the main victims of the current war. I am ready to sacrifice my entire family if peace comes to the country, but it won’t,” he mentioned. “I have no faith in the peace process with the Taliban.”

Other, similar to Hashmat Sayedkhil, an worker of the Afghan ministry of economic system, have been extra hopeful.

“Obviously there is an opportunity, and both sides can show their commitment to the Afghan people,” he mentioned. “We see a tiny light at the end of a dark tunnel, and we hope the Afghan people get to experience peace.”

Mujib Mashal reported from Doha, Qatar, and Fatima Faizi and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan. Reporting was contributed by Najim Rahim and Farooq Jan Mangal from Kabul.

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