Kabul: The Taliban attacked a third provincial capital in Afghanistan in less than a week, killing at least two civilians, an official said Friday as a US envoy was back in Qatar for unexpected talks on a US-Taliban deal he had described as ‘complete’ just days earlier.
Farah provincial governor Mohammad Shoaib Sabet told this agency that other than the two killed, 15 others were wounded in the latest attack, citing local hospitals.
This week’s spike in violence, including two Taliban car bombings in the Afghan capital, comes after US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he and the insurgents had reached a deal ‘in principle’ that would begin a US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban counter-terror guarantees.
Khalilzad abruptly returned to Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, from here for more talks Thursday evening, even though earlier in the week he said the deal only needed President Donald Trump’s approval to be final.
Objections to the agreement raised by the Afghan government and several former US ambassadors to Afghanistan, and the death of a US service member in the latest Kabul bombing Thursday, have increased pressure on Khalilzad in recent days.
The Taliban have explained their surge in deadly attacks — including on the capitals of northern Kunduz and Baghlan provinces last weekend — as necessary to give them a stronger negotiating position in talks with the US, a stance that has appalled Afghans and others as scores of civilians are killed.