Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

United States general says some Taliban interested in peace

Seven attackers killed as Afghan forces stave off major terror bid Suspected Militants Strike Afghan Interior Ministry, Exchange Gunfire With Police
Andrew Cummings | 31 May, 2018, 20:08

Some Taliban leaders are participating in private talks with Afghanistan government officials to jumpstart peace talks, even as fighting endures in the 16-year war, the top USA commander in the country said Wednesday.

The attack started at around 12.15pm Kabul time when an explosion occurred close to the entrance gate of the ministry.

The militants traded fire with security force before they were killed within minutes.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack a few hours later in a statement released by ISIS' media wing, Amaq Agency.

Last week the Taliban called on Kabul residents to "keep away" from military and intelligence centres in the city, saying the group had more assaults planned as part of its annual spring offensive.

The ministry says at least eight policemen were wounded in the attack but the ministry spokesman Najib Danish had earlier said at least one policeman lost his life in the attack and five others were wounded.

It was a rare victory for Afghan security forces, who have struggled to secure the capital in recent months amid relentless attacks by the Taliban and the IS affiliate in Afghanistan.

Some elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan are showing interest in peace talks, the top USA commander in Kabul said Wednesday, citing "off stage" contacts involving what he described as mid- and high-level leaders of the insurgency.

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Gunmen dressed as US soldiers set off a vehicle bomb and then tried to shoot their way into the Afghan Interior Ministry before being killed by government forces Wednesday, security officials said.

According to the ministry, three attackers detonated their explosives while seven others were gunned down by government forces.

"There are very high blast walls around the compound to protect it from attacks".

Wednesday's attack came hours after Taliban suicide bombers stormed a police station in Logar province south of Kabul, where three officers were killed.

Both IS and the Taliban have stepped up their attacks on Kabul.

The nomination, which will elevate Gen. Miller to a four-star general, has been made amid a brutal spate of Taliban terrorist attacks and high-profile US military operations that have bloodied both sides during this year's fighting season.

During his years with the teams, Gen. Miller has "learned the best of the Special Forces lessons, which is not just the application of violence" but the "intelligent application of force" to leverage the necessary political and diplomatic solutions to end the war at the negotiating table, said David Sedney, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009 to 2013.

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