Afghanistan peace talks resume as bloodshed continues

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#Kaboul (AFP)

A spate of assassinations has sowed fear and chaos across #Afghanistan as a new round of peace talks between the #Afghan government and the #Taliban begins in #Qatar on #Tuesday.

#Months of deliberation between the two sides have yielded little results so far, but both sides did something of a breakthrough last year when they finally agreed at least what to discuss in the next round.

#Afghan government negotiators will push for a permanent ceasefire and to protect the existing system of governance, in place since the #Taliban was ousted in 2001 by a US-led invasion following the 11 attacks. #September.

“The talks are going to be very complicated and long,” #Ghulam #Farooq #Majroh, a government negotiator, told AFP.

“But we hope to get to a result as soon as possible because people are tired of this bloody war. ”

The #Taliban made no comment.

The first direct talks between the warring parties began in #September after months of delays, but quickly became bogged down by disputes over the basic framework for the discussions and religious interpretations.

A concerted diplomatic effort by #Washington ultimately resulted in consensus.

The negotiations follow a landmark troop withdrawal agreement signed in #February by the #Taliban and #Washington, which saw the #United #States pledge to withdraw all foreign forces from #Afghanistan by #May 2021.

– #Violence is increasing –

#Talks between the #Afghan government and the #Taliban have been marred by an increase in violence from the start, but a new trend is a wave of high-profile targeted assassinations of officials, activists and journalists.

The vice-governor of #Kabul province, five journalists and a prominent election activist have been among those murdered in #Kabul and other cities since #November.

#Officials accuse the #Taliban of chaos, although the jihadist group #Islamic #State has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.

“The #Taliban are aiming to divide the people and to arouse criticism and frustration against the government security institutions with these assassinations,” #Javid #Faisal, adviser to the #National #Security #Council, told AFP.

“But murders unite people. ”

#Nishank #Motwani, deputy director of the #Afghanistan #Research and #Assessment #Unit think tank, said the #Taliban would not officially claim responsibility for political assassinations, but nevertheless wanted to demonstrate “to its cadres that the #Taliban are who they are and have not changed ”.

The #Taliban carried out more than 18,000 attacks across the country in 2020, #Afghan spy chief #Ahmad #Zia #Siraj told lawmakers this week.

The first nine months of last year saw 2,177 civilians killed and 3,822 injured, according to the #United #Nations #Assistance #Mission in #Afghanistan.

#Ordinary #Afghans yearn for better security but have little hope of immediate improvement despite the talks.

“We have no security in #Kabul. #How long will we need to continue to bury our loved ones? #Said #Jamshid #Mohammad, a resident of #Kabul.

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