Afghan pres­i­dent names peace team to lead ne­go­ti­a­tions with mil­i­tants on day Tal­iban bomb kills 10 in Kabul

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - RUCHI KU­MAR Kabul

A Tal­iban bomb at­tack on a Bri­tish se­cu­rity com­pany in Kabul killed at least 10 peo­ple and wounded 19 yes­ter­day.

And Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani told a UN-spon­sored con­fer­ence of plans to seek a peace agree­ment with the mil­i­tant group.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter spokesman Na­jib Dan­ish said a sui­cide bomber blew him­self up, then other in­sur­gents started a gun bat­tle with troops in the area. The Tal­iban claimed the at­tack.

Basir Mu­jahid, spokesman for the Kabul po­lice chief, said the tar­get of the at­tack was Bri­tish se­cu­rity com­pany G4S. He said the com­pany trained Afghan se­cu­rity forces.

In an­other at­tack, in the Taimani area of Kabul, gun­men at­tacked the home of Am­rul­lah Saleh, Afghanistan’s for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief and head of the Green Party move­ment.

Mr Saleh told The Na­tional that he was with Rah­mat­ul­lah Na­bil, a for­mer direc­tor of Afghanistan’s Na­tional Di­rec­torate of Se­cu­rity, when the three gun­men launched the as­sault.

His guards re­pelled the at­tack and nei­ther man was harmed.

Be­fore the at­tacks, Mr Ghani an­nounced a 12-per­son team for peace talks with the Tal­iban, as the UN re­newed calls for di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Kabul and the mil­i­tants.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment, western diplo­mats and UN of­fi­cials have in re­cent weeks raised hopes of fi­nally reach­ing a deal to end the Tal­iban’s 17-year in­sur­gency.

At an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in Geneva, Mr Ghani said the team would be led by Pres­i­den­tial Chief of Staff Ab­dul Salam Rahimi.

Mr Rahimi, a for­mer hu­man­i­tar­ian worker and ex-deputy Afghan fi­nance min­is­ter, is one of Mr Ghani’s clos­est aides.

Mean­while, Afghan of­fi­cials say air strikes killed 30 civil­ians in the south­ern prov­ince of Hel­mand late on Tues­day as Nato forces in­creased at­tacks to bring the Tal­iban to talks.

Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said the at­tack on the G4S com­pound was a re­sponse to the Hel­mand strikes.

Amer­i­can air strikes killed at least 30 Afghan civil­ians in the south­ern prov­ince of Hel­mand, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The strikes re­port­edly took place dur­ing a fire­fight be­tween Afghan spe­cial forces – who were with US mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers – and Tal­iban mil­i­tants late on Tues­day.

Wash­ing­ton and al­lied forces have in­creased air mis­sions in an at­tempt to drive the Tal­iban into peace talks to end the 17year war.

Hel­mand pro­vin­cial gover­nor Mo­ham­mad Yasin Khan said troops had called in air strikes against Tal­iban fight­ers in Garm­sir, which re­sulted in the deaths of civil­ians and mil­i­tants. Ataullah Afghan, head of Hel­mand pro­vin­cial coun­cil, said that women and chil­dren were among those killed. The Nato-led forces said Afghan troops and US ad­vis­ers came un­der fire from Tal­iban ma­chine­guns and rocket-pro­pelled grenades.

“At the time of the strike, the ground force was un­aware of any civil­ians in or around the com­pound,” a force spokes­woman said. “They knew only that the Tal­iban was us­ing the build­ing as a fight­ing po­si­tion.

“We in­ves­ti­gate ev­ery cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tion of er­ror and re­view ev­ery mis­sion to learn, adapt and im­prove.”

The civil­ian death toll in air strikes is grow­ing and un­der­lines the sever­ity of the Afghan war even as moves to be­gin peace talks have picked up, with con­tact be­tween US peace en­voy Zal­may Khalilzad and Tal­iban rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

A Tal­iban del­e­ga­tion met Mr Khalilzad in Doha in Oc­to­ber and this month to dis­cuss an end to the Afghan con­flict. Mr Khalilzad has said he is “cau­tiously op­ti­mistic” for an end to the fight­ing.

The UN said last month that the num­ber of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties from air strikes in the first nine months of the year was al­ready higher than in any en­tire year since at least 2009.

Reuters

A boy in hos­pi­tal in Afghanistan where the UN says civil­ian ca­su­al­ties have in­creased as a re­sult of more air strikes

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