Afghan woman in Taliban peace talks injured in ‘assassination attempt’

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An Afghan woman involved in negotiations between the government and the Taliban to end a 19-year war in the country was injured in an “assassination attempt”, officials said.

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Fawzia Koofi, who is also a women’s rights activist and a staunch critic of the Taliban, was assaulted on Friday afternoon near the capital Kabul as she was at a market with her sister in the Qarabagh neighborhood of Tariq. Arian, spokesperson for the Interior. The ministry said.

Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi speaks to the media ahead of “intra-Afghan” talks in Moscow, Russia, in 2019 (AP Photo / Pavel Golovkin)

Gunmen opened fire on Koofi and she suffered “minor injuries”.

The head of the Afghan peace delegation, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, tweeted that Koofi had survived the attack and was “in good health”.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he strongly condemns the attack on Koofi and “will call on the government to identify and apprehend the culprits and possible motives for the attack.”

The delegation is preparing for peace talks which could take place as early as August 20 in Qatar, where the Taliban have a headquarters.

Negotiations on a mutual peace agreement that were due to start in March have long stalled. The Afghan government on Thursday released 80 of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for the resumption of talks.

The prisoner releases on both sides are part of a pact signed in February between the United States and the Taliban, which called for the release of 5,000 government-held Taliban and 1,000 government and military personnel held by the group of insurgents as a sign of goodwill.

The US peace agreement aims to recruit the Taliban to fight Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, a common enemy. The Taliban and the Islamic State are staunch rivals.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack on Koofi and said that “cowardly attacks on Afghan women militants will not end their commitment to protect the values ​​of the past 19 years in Afghanistan”.

No one immediately claimed responsibility. Affiliates of the Taliban and the Islamic State continue to carry out attacks against senior figures in the Afghan government, and the United Nations on Friday called for the protection of human rights defenders in Afghanistan.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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