LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A collection of militant attacks in Afghanistan killed extra than 20 folks, officers mentioned on Saturday, forward of a world assembly subsequent week aimed toward constructing diplomatic help for hoped-for peace talks with the Taliban.
Taliban militants attacked an Afghan military put up in a single day on Friday, killing 18 authorities troopers, whereas a suicide bomber in the capital killed three folks and wounded 5, and separate attacks in Helmand killed at the very least three others.
The attacks got here as a high-level NATO delegation visited Afghanistan, pledging help for President Ashraf Ghani’s authorities, which on Wednesday hosts the most recent in a collection of diplomatic conferences aimed toward laying the groundwork for a attainable political course of involving the Taliban.
Violence has intensified in Afghanistan since U.S. President Donald Trump in August unveiled a extra aggressive technique, with U.S.-led forces finishing up extra air strikes, and the Taliban responding with bombs, ambushes and raids.
The Taliban, combating to drive out international forces and re-impose its model of strict Islamic legislation, mentioned in an announcement it had attacked a authorities military put up in a single day on Friday in the western province of Farah. Government officers confirmed the assault.
“A large number of Taliban attacked an army outpost and we lost 18 soldiers and two were wounded,” mentioned authorities spokesman Dawlat Waziri.
On Saturday a bomber blew himself up on a street in Kabul close to an workplace of the Afghan intelligence companies, the most recent in a spate of attacks in the town in which tons of of individuals have been killed and wounded. Islamic State claimed duty in a message carried by its Amaq information company.
The capital has been on excessive alert since a Taliban suicide bomber blew up an explosive-packed ambulance on a busy road on Jan. 27, killing extra than 100 folks and wounding at the very least 235.
Per week earlier, militants had killed extra than 20 folks, together with 4 Americans, in an assault on one of many metropolis’s high motels. The Taliban claimed that assault too.
General John Nicholson, the highest U.S. commander in Afghanistan, mentioned NATO would assist authorities enhance safety in the capital in addition to aiding Afghan forces in pressuring the insurgents with air strikes.
“We expect the enemy to continue with these horrendous attacks,” Nicholson mentioned, however added there had been a “lowering of ambition” by the Taliban which he mentioned had given up attempting to grab cities or entire provinces in favor of sentimental civilian targets.
“The Taliban cannot win and their best hope for the future is to engage in reconciliation,” Nicholson advised reporters at a information convention in Kabul.
Although there seems to be no speedy prospect of any negotiations with the insurgents, officers say low-level contacts, aimed toward establishing the premise for future talks, have been occurring behind the scenes.
“Talks about those – beginning talks are certainly in the works in different forms,” Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. everlasting consultant to NATO, mentioned. “So don’t think that nothing is happening. A lot is happening in a very beginning stage … of a way forward.”
Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, which first appeared close to the border with Pakistan in 2015, has develop into more and more lively and has claimed a number of latest attacks, though Nicholson mentioned its power had been severely diminished and the motion had solely between 1,500 and a couple of,000 fighters.
“We have cut their numbers in half over the last two years,” he mentioned. Most fighters had been Pakistani militants, with no signal of the flood of international fighters seen in Syria and Iraq.
Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib and James Mackenzie in Kabul; Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Robert Birsel and David Holmes