Taliban’s Attack in Kabul Raises Question on the Peace Agreement

Last updated on September 9th, 2019

The insurgent group of Afghanistan carried out another deadly attack in the Afghan capital on Monday night. Claiming responsibility of the suicide attack, the Taliban targeted Kabul’s Green Village compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses.

On Tuesday, the officials reported that the death toll surged to 16 civilians, while 119 people were wounded. The attack came hours after the US envoy briefed Afghanistan’s government on an agreement “in principle” with the group, where nearly 5,000 US troops would be withdrawn from the country within five months.

The blast occurred on the street outside the Green Village compound, and destroyed a number of homes. Late on Monday, about 400 foreigners had been rescued after the suicide bomber targeted the compound, stated the Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

A plume of smoke into Kabul’s night sky because of the “horrific explosion” caused a nearby gasoline station to burst into flames. Some fires were reportedly started by protesting Kabul residents, who climbed over the wall into the international compound and set a part of it on fire.

The bomber appeared to be driving a tractor, which he detonated and caused an explosion by hitting the western wall of the compound. Rahimi said that the security forces shot and killed five attackers soon after.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman told The Associated Press that “we understand that peace talks are going on … but they must also understand that we are not weak and if we enter into talks … we enter from a strong position.”

Mujahid stated that the attack was a response to the US and Afghan forces’ raids on civilians in certain parts of the country. Although acknowledged that there should be less harm to civilians, he stated that they shouldn’t be living in close proximity of such a crucial foreign compound.

Green Village is a frequent target of the Taliban and remains highly guarded by Afghan forces and private security guards. In January, it was hit by a suicide car bomber, who killed at least four people and wounded several. It occurred during US envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit to the capital, to brief the government on his negotiations with the militant group.

Monday’s blast also occurred during the final minutes of Khalilzad’s nationally televised interview about what the negotiations between the US and Taliban might mean for the country’s future.

The US-Taliban Deal

Hours before the Green Village attack on Monday, Zalmay Khalilzad presented a draft deal to Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and declared that the United States is “at the threshold of an agreement” with the Taliban, which still need approval from the US President Donald Trump.

“We have reached an agreement with the Taliban in principle but of course until the U.S. president agrees with it, it isn’t final,” said Khalilzad.

The insurgent group wants the eradication of all the estimated 20,000 US and NATO forces from Afghanistan. As per the deal, the US would withdraw first 5,000 troops within 135 days from first five bases, from the estimated 13,000-14,000 troops in the South Asian country.

While elections in the US are nearing, President Trump is focused on withdrawing complete presence of their troops from Afghanistan before elections. For him, the draft deal appears crucial as it meets the deadline. Last week, he had highlighted Washington’s plans of reducing its forces to 8,600, and then “make a determination from there”.

The withdrawal is expected to reduce the troop levels almost back to what it was before Trump took office in January 2017. However, Washington would reportedly seek the Taliban’s assurance that the troop approval would not make Afghanistan a hub for extremist groups to plan and launch global terror attacks. Any further the withdrawal would depend on the militant group meeting conditions of the deal.

On the contrary, the group has intensified attacks in the recent months, particularly to have an upper hand in the negotiations. The situation has forced the residents to question if any agreement with the Taliban could be trusted.

Both the sides have their own reason and set of benefits in the ongoing negotiations, while the civilians continue to suffer the adversities. Where President Trump is eager to implement his will before elections, the Taliban is striving to clear the country of any international presence. Amidst the deliberations, the lives of civilians remain a major question.

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