Amidst a rising number of COVID-19 cases as well as the ongoing so-called peace talks, the Taliban has further intensified their attacks across Afghanistan. Last week alone, the Taliban launched 300 attacks against the Afghan government and civilians, inflicting heavy casualties. The Afghan government has responded to the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the Taliban as well.

On Saturday, the terrorist group further increased their attacks by launching major offenses in three provinces, attempting to take over some districts. The increase in attacks is happening while some U.S. diplomats are optimistic that that the intra-Afghan negotiations will begin soon. The intra-Afghan negotiations are part of the condition included in the peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban. As part of the deal, the Taliban has stopped attacking both American and its allies’ targets. However, the group has increased its attacks on the Afghan security forces.

The spike in violence is also happening at a time that the Afghan government and the Taliban reported on progress in releasing prisoners from each side as laid out in the so-called peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban. The prisoner exchange is due to begin March 31.

After almost a year wait, last week on Friday, the Afghan government released the list of the negotiating team representing the country. The list includes 16 men and five women.

Last week in another horrific attack, a religious minority was targeted and lost 25 members of its community. Sikhs are a religious minority in Afghanistan, with a history of persecution by the Taliban as well as ISIS. Almost two years ago, the Afghan Sikhs were targeted in another major attack as well.

 

Sources: Tolo, 3/30/20, 3/25/20, NYT, 3/29/20

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