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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Qatar condemns attack on UN headquarters in Afghanistan

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The Gulf state will host a senior level meeting on Afghanistan on 11 August.

Qatar has strongly condemned the targeted attack of a United Nations headquarters in Herat province, western Afghanistan, on Friday, where at least one security guard was killed.

In a statement released by Doha’s foreign ministry [MOFA] on Saturday, Qatar expressed its condolences to the families of the victim as well as the people of Afghanistan.

The UN’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [UNAMA] said “anti-government elements” in Afghanistan were behind the weekend’s attack, which involved rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.

The ambush took place hours after the Taliban entered Herat city, just a day after entering Lashkargah where clashes with Afghan security forces took place near the UNAMA headquarters.

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

Reuters reported that while the perpetrators were not immediately identified, the Taliban said the attack was possibly caused by crossfire.

China expects Taliban to ‘play important peace role’ in Afghanistan

“It is possible that guards could have sustained harm in crossfire due to close proximity of the office to the fighting,” the insurgents’ spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Twitter, noting that the compound was not under any threat.

The US also strongly condemned the attack, calling for the reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

A Western security source told the agency that all diplomatic compounds were put on high alert, with foreign staff in all embassy offices in Afghanistan advised to remain on strict lockdown.

On Sunday, Kandahar airport was hit by three rockets amid fighting between government forces and the Taliban, with no immediate reports on casualties.

“Kandahar airport was targeted by us because the enemy were using it as a centre to conduct air strikes against us,” Mujahid told Reuters.

Violence in Afghanistan has peaked following US President Joe Biden’s announcement in April to fully withdraw foreign forces from Kabul by September 11th.

The Taliban have since been making more territorial gains in the country.

“The Taliban has not changed. They don’t have the will for peace or for development in the country,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the “first digital” cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace on Sunday.

“The Taliban allowed the international insurgent groups into the country.”

Qatar has hosted the intra-Afghan talks since September last year in hopes of reaching a political solution to the ongoing war in the country, facilitating ongoing meetings between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha.

The Gulf state is now set to host a Troika Plus meeting on Afghanistan on 11 August, where Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan will hold talks in Doha to discuss the peace process.

Last week, UNAMA warned Afghanistan is expected to witness its highest number of recorded civilian casualties in a single year if there is no significant de-escalation in the country to end the ongoing violence.

“I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians,” said Lyons last week, calling on the warring factions to intensify their efforts to stop the fighting.


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