Kabul (dpa) - Despite a ceasefire for the Islamic festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha, the violence in Afghanistan does not stop.
There has been a fire break between the Afghan government and the militant Islamist Taliban since midnight Kabul, but just a few hours earlier, according to provincial councilors, at least 18 people were killed in a car bomb explosion in the central province of Logar. Dozens of other people were wounded in the attack on a busy square in the provincial capital, Pol-e Alam.
The Taliban, who are also active in Logar, immediately denied responsibility for the attack. But the interior ministry blamed the militant group for the attack. "The Taliban is the bedrock of terrorist activity, and they certainly cannot exonerate themselves from such incidents," said Ministry spokesman Tarek Arian. Many women and children are said to be among the dead. A video that was distributed by journalists showed chaotic hospital scenes with numerous injuries and bloody floors.
The Friday morning was not calm either. According to the authorities, an explosion in the northwestern city of Herat injured a dozen people, including a child. The background to the explosion was initially completely unclear.
The conflict in Afghanistan is still one of the deadliest conflicts for civilians, according to a UN report. More than 1200 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2020. Since the beginning of the year, more than 100,000 people within the country have fled battles from their villages, according to the UN emergency relief agency.
The Taliban and Kabul had agreed on the three-day ceasefire on Tuesday. The United Nations welcomed the announcement and called on the parties to the conflict to take the opportunity to start the peace process. Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have been planned for months, but the conflict in the country continues brutally. The level of violence in the second quarter of the year was "far above historical norms," it said in a report by the US Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan (Sigar) on Friday.
The Taliban-Kabul dispute was primarily about a prisoner swap that was agreed as part of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban on February 29 in Doha, Qatar. The agreement provides for international troops to be withdrawn. In return, the Taliban had promised to end its relationship with other terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. The deal should also pave the way for peace talks within Afghanistan. Up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released in exchange for 1,000 prisoners detained by the rebels.
Just a few hours before Thursday's car bomb attack, the Taliban announced that more than 1,000 prisoners had been released. The Afghan government has released 4,600 Taliban to date. President Aschraf Ghani announced on Tuesday that he would release the remaining Taliban. At the same time, he called for a quick start to the peace talks, which should begin in Doha.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200730-99-987640 / 3
UN Communication on ceasefire
United Nations refugee matrix in Afghanistan
OCHA - IDPs July
Sigar - Quarterly Reports
Unama - Reports on Civilian Victims