Rocket attack on Afghan capital as President delivers Eid speech


At least three rockets landed in the Afghan capital on Tuesday ahead of a speech by President Ashraf Ghani marking the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Azha.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, it was the first rocket attack on Kabul since the Taliban launched a series of offensives coinciding with the final withdrawal of foreign troops from the ravaged country. by war.

The calm of the early morning vacation was shattered by the sound of rockets heard through the heavily fortified green area that houses the presidential palace and several embassies, including the US mission.

“All the rockets hit three different parts,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai said.

He said three rockets appeared to have been fired from a pickup truck.

“Based on our initial information, we have no casualties.

Minutes after the attack, Ghani began a speech to the nation in the presence of some of his senior officials.

The presidential palace was attacked last year as hundreds gathered to witness President Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration ceremony, prompting some to flee.

The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the two explosions, without causing any casualties.

Tuesday’s attack coincides with a massive Taliban offensive across the country as foreign forces complete a troop withdrawal that is expected to be completed by August 31.

It also comes a day after more than a dozen diplomatic missions in Kabul called for an “urgent end” to the insurgents’ ruthless military offensive, claiming it was at odds with claims they want to secure a political agreement to end the conflict.

The statement follows another round of inconclusive talks in Doha over the weekend between the Afghan government and the Taliban, many of whom hoped would revive the troubled peace process.

LITTLE PROGRESS

“The Taliban offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement,” the statement said.

“This has resulted in the loss of innocent Afghan lives, including through continued targeted assassinations, displacement of the civilian population, looting and burning of buildings, destruction of vital infrastructure and damage to communications networks.”

For months, the two sides met intermittently in the Qatari capital, but achieved little, as talks appear to have lost momentum as militants advance on the battlefield.

A joint statement on Sunday evening said they had agreed on the need to reach a “just solution” and to meet again next week.

“We also agreed that there should be no pause in negotiations,” Abdullah Abdullah, who oversees the Afghan government delegation, told AFP on Monday.

He noted, however, that neither side was currently pursuing a joint ceasefire during the talks, despite urgent calls from Afghan civil society and the international community to end the fighting.

The Taliban and the government have already announced ceasefires on certain religious holidays.

After the weekend’s summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his administration hoped to start talks with the Taliban over the group’s refusal to let Ankara run Kabul airport after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

Turkey has negotiated with US defense officials an offer to secure the airport, which is essential to allow countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the troops withdraw.

Last week, the Taliban called Turkey’s offer “reprehensible”.

Fighting, meanwhile, continued in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the government claiming gains in various parts of the country.

Over the weekend, Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said he “strongly favors” a political settlement, even as the hard-line Islamist movement continues its offensives.

The Taliban are seizing districts, seizing border posts and surrounding provincial capitals as foreign forces prepare to exit completely by the end of August.

In Washington, the State Department said some 700 interpreters and their immediate family members fleeing Afghanistan will be transferred to a military base in the state of Virginia.


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