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Clashes resumed between Taliban fighters and government forces in Helmand Province.
The Afghan government’s three-day ceasefire with the Taliban, which was marked by violent attacks, has ended – the armed group ISIS (ISIS) announced that some of them, amid calls for the resumption of peace talks.
An Afghan military spokesman and a local official said that fighting resumed Sunday in the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the restive Helmand province in the south of the country.
Ataullah Afghani, head of Helmand’s provincial council, told AFP that the fighting began early today and is still continuing.
He said that Taliban fighters attacked security checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah and other areas.
A spokesman for the Afghan army in the south confirmed the resumption of fighting.
And blamed the Taliban, which has waged an armed insurgency since its ouster in a US-led military invasion in 2001, blamed the Western-backed Kabul administration for the resumption of fighting.
“The (Afghan forces) have started the operation … They are not blaming us,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
The armed group continued to attack Afghan forces even after it signed a peace agreement with the United States in February 2020. It describes Kabul as a “puppet regime” of the West.
“Just one day ago, the negotiating teams of the government and the armed group met briefly in Qatar,” Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.
He said they renewed their commitment on Saturday to finding a peaceful end to the war and called for an early start of the stalled talks.
Kabul and the Taliban have been holding talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, since last September as part of US efforts to reach lasting peace in the war-torn country.
The United States has been pushing for an acceleration of talks between Afghan stakeholders as it withdraws its last 2,500-3500 troops and the remaining 7,000 NATO troops.
Even as the Taliban and the government signed the ceasefire declared on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, violence continued unabated in Afghanistan.
On Friday, a bombing in a mosque north of the capital killed 12 worshipers, including the worshiper. And 15 others were injured.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors armed groups. Al-Jazeera was unable to independently verify the ISIS allegations reported by the website.
in the dark
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) also claimed to have blown up several electrical grid stations over the weekend. This left the capital, Kabul, in the dark for most of the three-day Eid that followed the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
In postings on its websites, ISIS claimed responsibility for additional attacks over the past two weeks that destroyed 13 electrical grid stations in several governorates. The plants bring in energy imported from Central Asian countries Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Government spokesman Sanger Niyazai said the attacks had left nine provinces, including Kabul, with disrupted electricity supplies.
There was also concern that local armed commanders, who were demanding protection money from the government to protect stations in areas they controlled, might be behind some of the destruction.
At least one local armed leader was arrested last year after demanding funds for protection.
The seemingly unstoppable violence in Afghanistan has led residents and regional states to fear that the eventual withdrawal of US and NATO soldiers may lead to further chaos.
US President Joe Biden announced last month the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11 at the latest.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday expressed his concern about the rapid withdrawal of US and NATO forces in a phone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Wang described the withdrawal as hasty and warned that it would “severely” affect the Afghan peace process and negatively affect regional stability. He called on the United Nations to play a greater role.
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