fog.png
Sunday November 29th, 2020 3:25PM

IS attack hits Afghan capital; Pompeo joins peace talks

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Mortars slammed into a residential area of the Afghan capital, killing eight people Saturday, hours before outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are likely his last meetings with the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators trying to hammer out a peace deal.

The attack in Kabul, which was blamed on Islamic State militants, also injured 31 people.

The assault came as peace talks were underway in Qatar, where Pompeo told Afghan government negotiators that the U.S. will “sit on the side and help where we can” in the negotiations with Taliban militants.

Two Taliban officials told The Associated Press that the two warring sides have found common ground on which to move forward the stalled talks. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, did not elaborate.

In Kabul, at least one of the 23 mortar shells fired from two cars hit inside the Iranian Embassy compound. No one was injured, but it damaged the main building, the Iranian Embassy said in a tweet. At least 31 people were hurt elsewhere in the city, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry.

The local Islamic State affiliate issued a statement claiming the attack that targeted the so-called Green Zone in Kabul which houses foreign embassies, the presidential palace and Afghan military compounds, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

In Doha, Pompeo also met with the co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed the peace agreement with Washington in February ahead of the so-called intra-Afghan talks. The insurgent group's spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, tweeted that further prisoner releases were discussed in the meeting, in addition to those that the two warring sides committed to ahead of peace talks under the U.S. deal.

Naeem said the Taliban also repeated their demand that Taliban leaders be removed from the United Nations sanctions list. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed earlier Saturday issued a statement assailing the Afghan government for requesting the U.N. maintain sanctions on Taliban leaders.

For most Afghans, the overriding concern has been a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against Afghanistan's beleaguered security forces, since the start of peace talks in September.

The announcement this week that the United States will accelerate its planned troop withdrawal has lent greater urgency to the intra-Afghan negotiations and to the calls for a reduction in violence. Washington announced it would withdraw another estimated 2,500 troops before the middle of January leaving about 2,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have, however, held to their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.

The United States has been pressing in recent weeks for a reduction in violence, while the Afghan government has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire will be part of negotiations.

There are many within the Afghan government who want February’s peace deal scrapped. President-elect Joe Biden has previously advocated a small, intelligence based force in Afghanistan to focus on counter-terrorism.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the government's High Council for Reconciliation, condemned in a tweet Saturday's attack on the capital, calling it a “cowardly” act. The council oversees the government's negotiating team at the table with the Taliban in Doha.

Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited on Tuesday Kabul for the first time since he came to office, condemned the attack and warned “it is important to be vigilant against the spoilers who are working to undermine the peace efforts.” He did not identify “the spoilers.”

Hours before the attack rattled Kabul, a bomb attached to a car killed one security personnel and wounded three others in an eastern neighborhood of the capital, said Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent months with increasingly horrific attacks often claimed by the Islamic State group affiliate.

___

Gannon reported from Islamabad.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
IS attack hits Afghan capital; Pompeo joins peace talks
Mortars have slammed into a residential area of the Afghan capital, killing eight people, hours before outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are likely his last meetings with the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators trying to hammer out a peace deal
1:35PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after battling COVID-19
Housing Secretary Ben Carson is crediting unapproved, experimental treatments with saving his life after saying he became “desperately ill” following his infection with the coronavirus
1:33PM ( 8 minutes ago )
G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus
The Group of 20 summit has begun with appeals by the world’s most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year’s gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations
1:24PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Protests staged across France against bill on police images
Thousands of people took to the streets in Paris and other French cities Saturday to protest a proposed security law they say would impinge on freedom of information and media rights
12:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Midwest governors: Stay home for Thanksgiving
Coronavirus infections are ravaging South Dakota, where more than half of tests have come back positive for weeks
12:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Bodies of man and his slave unearthed from ashes at Pompeii
Italian archaeological officials say the skeletal remains of two people believed to be those of a rich man and his male slave have been discovered at the site of ancient Pompeii
12:15PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
G-20 summit opens as leaders urge united response to virus
The Group of 20 summit has begun with appeals by the world’s most powerful leaders to collectively chart a way forward as the coronavirus pandemic overshadows this year’s gathering, transforming it from in-person meetings to a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations
1:24PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Week offers snapshot of how Trump, Biden approach presidency
Joe Biden spent the past week at his Delaware home carefully trying to build a government and preparing to take on a pandemic
1:20PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: Donald Trump Jr. doing 'very well' with virus
President Donald Trump says his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is doing “very well” in quarantine after becoming infected with the coronavirus
1:15PM ( 28 minutes ago )
'Proud' Shiffrin comes runner-up to Vlhova in comeback race
Mikaela Shiffrin has settled for second place behind Petra Vlhova in a women’s World Cup slalom
12:45PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Thiem gets past Djokovic in 3-set semifinal at ATP Finals
Dominic Thiem has ended Novak Djokovic’s bid for a record-tying sixth ATP Finals title
12:37PM ( 1 hour ago )