Wakil Kohsar/AFP by way of Getty Pictures
Practically two dozen rockets rained down on the Afghan capital Saturday, killing at the least eight individuals and marking an inauspicious begin to a day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earmarked for discussing peace efforts in Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for the Afghan Inside Ministry said that the assaults launched from two autos hit at the least six completely different neighborhoods of Kabul. Along with the lifeless, at the least 31 individuals have been injured within the assault.
The Islamic State claimed duty for the barrage, based on the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi organizations on-line. It is simply the newest act of violence claimed by the Sunni Islamist militant group, whose department in Afghanistan says it perpetrated a number of lethal assaults in latest weeks — together with an assault on Kabul College and a suicide bombing within the capital.
The assaults got here at a very delicate time for Pompeo, who was scheduled to fulfill Saturday in Qatar with officers from each the Afghan authorities and the Taliban. On the agenda have been the continuing peace talks between the long-warring sides, which have largely stalled regardless of a separate settlement between the U.S. and the Taliban earlier this 12 months.
As not too long ago as a month in the past, the Taliban launched one in every of its fiercest offensives in opposition to Afghan forces within the nation’s southern area, catching various Afghan civilians within the crossfire and displacing tens of 1000’s of residents.
The bloodshed has not dissuaded President Trump from his objective of withdrawing almost half of U.S. troops within the nation earlier than the tip of his time period in January. The administration introduced Tuesday that it plans to cut back troop totals within the nation to about 2,500 by mid-January — down from its present degree of 4,500 and a peak of roughly 100,000 a few decade in the past.
The transfer would signify an enormous step towards fulfilling a Trump marketing campaign promise, however it has additionally raised considerations amongst U.S. navy leaders and NATO allies.
“We have now been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, and no NATO ally desires to remain any longer than needed,” NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg warned in an announcement launched to information retailers Tuesday. “However on the identical time, the worth for leaving too quickly or in an uncoordinated means may very well be very excessive.”
Pompeo has hailed the unfolding peace negotiations as “a second to dare to hope.”
“It took laborious work and sacrifice to achieve this second,” he stated throughout talks in September, “and it’ll require laborious work and sacrifice to maintain it alive, and to reap the benefits of it in order that the talks end in a sturdy peace.”
It’s unclear precisely what is going to occur to U.S. troop ranges below President-elect Joe Biden, who is about to take workplace simply days after the troop drawdown is about to start. Biden, for his half, has expressed skepticism of an in depth U.S. presence in Afghanistan, however has additionally regarded favorably upon the concept of holding a small contingent of troops within the nation.
For now, the workplace of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has pledged that his officers have been instructed to “discover and punish the perpetrators” of the latest assaults in Kabul.