Friday, 21 Feb 2020

Afghanistan vows to crush ISIS havens after deadly Kabul attack

KABUL • Afghanistan’s President yesterday vowed to “eliminate” all safe havens of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.

President Ashraf Ghani’s comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people killed in last Saturday’s bombing at a wedding hall in capital Kabul. Close to 200 others were wounded.

“Our struggle will continue against (ISIS), we will take revenge and will root them out,” Mr Ghani declared. He added that safe havens for militants are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taleban. The ISIS affiliate, in claiming the wedding attack, said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter.

Following the attack, many outraged Afghans are asking whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taleban to end nearly 18 years of fighting will bring peace to the country.

The Taleban, which wants US and allied forces to withdraw from the country, in a sharply worded statement questioned why the US had failed to identify last Saturday’s attacker in advance.

But Mr Ghani yesterday asserted that the Taleban is just as much to blame for the wedding attack, saying that the group had “created the platform for terrorists” with its own brutal assaults on public places over the years.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year.

Meanwhile, fresh violence in the country was reported yesterday, with an Afghan official saying at least 66 people were wounded in a series of explosions in the eastern city of Jalalabad. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Details have yet to emerge on the blasts in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, where both the Taleban and the ISIS affiliate are active.

Mr Noor Ahmad Habibi, deputy spokesman for the provincial governor, said some 10 explosions took place and that most people had minor injuries.

And in the capital of neighbouring Laghman province, Miterlam, the governor’s spokesman Asadullah Dawlatzai said six people suffered light injuries in a mortar attack by the Taleban.


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