VOA News, May 4, 2015

Taliban Claims Responsibilty for Attacks that Kill 18 Afghans

The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks

By Ayaz Gul

Afghan officials have confirmed at least 16 soldiers are dead and more than a dozen wounded after a Taliban attack in a northeastern border region.

An unspecified number of soldiers are missing after the assault late Sunday in the remote Badakhshan province. The Taliban insurgents reportedly seized weapons, several tanks and vehicles.

Early Monday, at least two civilians were killed and 20 others wounded by a suicide bomber in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The Interior Ministry condemned the bombing, saying it demonstrates an "extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent and defenseless civilians."

An Afghan official says a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying government employees in Kabul
An Afghan official says a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying government employees in Kabul, May 4, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The attack came a day after Afghan peace negotiators and Taliban representatives, together with neutral Afghan peace activists and elders concluded unofficial “discussions” in Qatar in the latest effort to end Afghanistan's long war.

The two-day seminar organized by the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations ended on Sunday.

Pugwash issued a statement Monday emphasizing the non-official nature of the meeting, saying it was not supposed to be any sort of negotiations, and participants, including female Afghans, expressed their personnel opinions and not that of a group or institution.

"Despite the differences of opinions, the climate of the meeting was cooperative, constructive and friendly," the statement said.

It added the idea of bringing about peace in Afghanistan and ending the conflict was "wholeheartedly supported by all the participants" and the civilian casualties of the Afghan conflict have been lamented by everybody, even though differences may exist on who bears the main responsibility of these casualties.

"Everybody agreed that foreign forces have to leave Afghanistan soon. Some expressed concern there should be an agreement among Afghan political forces before the departure of the foreign forces. It was also agreed the Qatar meeting meeting should be followed up by other meetings in order that the peace process be sustained," the Pugwash statement added.

The Taliban insisted it only attended the unofficial Qatar gathering after Afghan officials agreed it would not be considered peace talks.

A statement the Taliban delegation read at the seminar was also released Monday. It reiterated demands for the withdrawal of foreign troops, saying that will lead to an “inclusive set up and Islamic system,” making peace possible.

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