Published: Tue, July 02, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Doha Talks Continue Amid Taliban's Attack In Kabul

Doha Talks Continue Amid Taliban's Attack In Kabul

Dozens of Afghans were killed on Monday in a brazen strike by Taliban militants on a security compound in the heart of Kabul even as peace talks with the United States were underway, officials said. Officials and police were at the scene of the blast and few details were available.

In its statement, the education ministry said five schools had been partially damaged, and asked "all sides involved in fighting to guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools".

At least 116 people were wounded, including 26 children and six women, the Health Ministry spokesman Dr Wahidullah Mayar said.

The insurgents first detonated a vehicle bomb outside the building, injuring more than 65 people, officials said.

Kabul's chief police spokesman, Firdous Faramaz, told the Associated Press that he could not yet comment on the attack's intended target or the type of explosive device used. He said it is hard to reach the area because of the ongoing gunbattle between police and militants.

The latest attack in the city came as the seventh round of talks between Taliban negotiators and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, moved into a third day in the Qatari capital, Doha.

No terrorist group in the country claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan has reportedly pressed the Taliban _ many of whom have homes in Pakistan _ into talks.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the Taliban for attacking civilians, calling it a crime against humanity.

Less than a week ago, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo paid a short visit to Kabul and said the Trump administration was hopeful that a peace deal with the Taliban was achievable by September 1.

"We strongly condemn the Taliban's latest brutal attack against fellow [Afghans]", the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

With the attack still ongoing, the Taliban spokesman in Doha again insisted that the insurgents will not negotiate with Kabul.

However, US officials have insisted that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", including intra-Afghan talks.

The Taliban has rejected any direct talks with the Afghan government which it calls "a US-imposed puppet regime".

During a visit last week to the Afghan capital, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would like to see an agreement before September 1, considered an ambitious deadline by analysts but likely linked to Afghan presidential polls scheduled for later that month. Washington has expressed concern the elections could hamper a peace deal and has quietly advocated for an interim administration for up to two years following an agreement.

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