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Deadly attacks on civilians prompt Afghan forces to resume offensives on militants

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:27, May 14, 2020

KABUL, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The deadly attacks, which targeted a maternity hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar on Tuesday and killed at least three dozen civilians, have promoted the Afghan forces to change their position from defensive to offensive, Presidential Palace spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said Wednesday.

Following the U.S.-Taliban peace deal, which was inked on Feb. 29 in Doha, the Afghan government forces had adopted a defensive position to facilitate prisoners' swap and pave the way for intra-Afghan dialogues.

Seddiqi, terming the Taliban as a terrorist group, said the terrorist attacks on Tuesday and in the past by Taliban or the Islamic State (IS) group are a testament that the militant groups are enemy of the people of Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit, in contact with media said that the Taliban fighters had no relations with the attack on the hospital in Kabul and the one on the funeral in Nangarhar.

In response, Seddiqi told local media that "Taliban cannot acquit itself simply by issuing a statement that the group is not involved in the attacks."

At least 14 women and children including infants were among those killed in the first attack that targeted a maternity hospital in Kabul on Tuesday, while 15 others including medical staff were wounded.

An hour later, a suicide bomber blew himself up among mourners in a funeral in Kuz Kunar district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, killing 24 civilians on the spot and injuring 68 others.

The deadly attacks on civilians, which the hardliner IS group has reportedly claimed responsibility, have drawn wide condemnation.

Hours after the bloody attacks, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a televised address ordered his security forces to "end active defense position" and resume offensives on militant groups including the Taliban.

However, in sharp reaction, the Taliban outfit flayed the order as an attempt by Ghani to remain in power under the shadow of war.

"Declaration of offensive operations against the Islamic Emirate (name of ousted Taliban regime) clearly shows that Ashraf Ghani is seeking to extend his rule under the shadow of war," Mujahid said on twitter.

Mujahid also blamed the Afghan government for delaying prisoners' swap to postpone the intra-Afghan talks.

The Taliban spokesman said the armed group is fully prepared to respond to any movement of the Afghan forces.

Rejecting the Taliban claims, Seddiqi in talks with media on Wednesday termed the Taliban as a warmonger militant group.

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