Afghans express anger, doubt over US-Taleban talks after bombing

KABUL • Outraged Afghans yesterday questioned the point of negotiations with the Taleban, aimed at getting US troops to leave and ending the war in the country, after 63 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a wedding reception in Kabul.

"Peace with whom? With those who bomb our weddings, schools, universities, offices and houses?" Twitter user Rada Akba wrote on the social media platform.

"Selling out this land and its people to those killers is sick and inhuman. History won't forget this," she added.

The Taleban denied responsibility for the blast - which took place at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighbourhood last Saturday - and condemned it.

Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also operate in Afghanistan, and have carried out bloody attacks in towns and cities, some against Shi'ites.

Journalist Sana Safi said she doubted the Taleban's denial, adding: "Who else is capable of carrying out such brutality? So 'peace agreement' with the Taleban isn't going to end the bloodshed for ordinary Afghans."

Mr Tawab Ghorzang, an adviser at Afghanistan's Ministry of Transport, said negotiations with the Taleban have given them legitimacy.

"If, thousands of times, the Taleban are given legitimacy on the platform of peace talks, their war crimes, and crimes against humanity, will go on," he wrote on Facebook.

The Taleban and the United States are trying to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of American forces, in exchange for a Taleban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's US-backed government.

Both sides have reported progress after eight rounds of talks since late last year.

Under the expected deal on a staggered withdrawal of US troops, the Taleban would guarantee that Afghanistan would not be a sanctuary for militants to expand and plot new attacks.

 

The government has not been involved in the negotiations - the Taleban refuses to talk to the administration, which they see as a US puppet - but the militants are expected to make a commitment to open power-sharing talks and agree to a ceasefire.

The government has insisted that a ceasefire must be part of any deal.

Afghan journalist Tabish Forugh also questioned the Taleban's denial of responsibility for the blast.

"They are responsible in the eyes of Afghans. They have turned a country of 30 million people into a slaughterhouse," he wrote. "We should not surrender to Taleban terror."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2019, with the headline 'Afghans express anger, doubt over US-Taleban talks after bombing'. Print Edition | Subscribe