Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today ordered the resumption of attacks on the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the country, after dozens of people were killed in two attacks on a funeral in the city of Nangarhar and a maternity hospital in the capital, Kabul, and the Taliban have denied any connection with the attacks.
“He issued an order to all security forces to put an end to their defensive position, return to the site of the attack and resume their operations against the enemy,” President Ghani said in a televised address. No group has yet claimed responsibility for my attack today, but the Afghan President held the Taliban and ISIS responsible for them.
The Afghan government had stopped its offensive operations against the Taliban after the signing of a peace agreement between the movement and the United States at the end of February in Doha.
The government says the decision to resume military operations against the Taliban comes as a response to a military escalation by the movement in more than one Afghan province.
Details of the two attacks
The Al-Jazeera correspondent in Afghanistan quoted a government spokesman as saying that 24 people were killed and 65, including parliamentarians, were wounded in a suicide attack targeting the funeral prayer of a local police chief in the Khywa district of Nangarhar State, east of the country. The spokesman said that among the dead was a member of the State Council.
|Afghan forces guard the entrance to a maternity hospital in the capital, Kabul, after an attack by gunmen, causing heavy casualties (Reuters)|
In the capital, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said that 13 people – including two infants and nurses – were killed in an armed attack on a maternity hospital west of the city, adding that three of the attackers were killed, while government forces managed to evacuate eighty people – including women and children – who were being held inside the hospital It is run by “Doctors Without Borders”.
For its part, the Taliban denied the relationship of its militants with the Kabul and Nangarhar attack, and the movement had previously stated that it had stopped its attacks on cities under its agreement with the United States, aimed at withdrawing its forces from the country.
“It seems that there is no point in continuing to hold peace talks with the Taliban,” Hamidullah Moheb, the national security adviser in Afghanistan, tweeted at his expense.
In a related context, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators of the two attacks to justice.
In a statement, Pompeo condemned the attacks in the strongest terms and described them as “acts of absolute evil,” and indicated that the Taliban had denied responsibility for them.
Pompeo added that the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan constitutes an important opportunity for the Afghan people “to build a united front against terrorist threats.”
For his part, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed the EU’s dissatisfaction with “the terrible inhumanity of the terrorist attacks today,” adding that during a remote meeting with defense ministers of the European Union “we cannot express in words about the atrocities that we witnessed today in Afghanistan.”
“Dozens of innocent civilians have been killed and injured in these rejected terrorist acts, targeting and killing mothers, newborns, nurses and families in mourning the vile acts that demonstrate a high degree of inhumanity,” Borrell said.