Taliban attacks Afghan base as Pakistan pushes for talks

AFP , Tuesday 25 Aug 2020

A Taliban-claimed suicide attack killed at least three people in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday as neighbouring Pakistan pushed for delayed peace talks to begin.

The suicide bomber detonated explosives in a truck near an Afghan army base in the restive northern province of Balkh, military spokesman for the region Hanif Rezayee said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the attack was revenge for a video circulating online that appeared to show Afghan troops desecrating the bodies of Taliban soldiers in the south.

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into the video, which surfaced earlier this month.

The assault on Tuesday killed two civilians and a commando and wounded more than 40 others, Rezayee said. Many houses were damaged or destroyed and soldiers were helping to get the victims to safety, he added.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the attack.

It comes as the Pakistani government was due to meet key Taliban negotiators in Islamabad to push for peace talks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has said negotiations are the only way forward in Afghanistan and sees its role as a "facilitator".

The warring Taliban and Afghan government had signalled they were prepared to launch negotiations immediately after the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which ended earlier this month, but the process remains bogged down over a controversial prisoner swap.

Both sides have fought for nearly two decades in a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, when it was ousted by a US-led invasion.


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