Taliban Offensive Kills 6 in Kunduz, More Than 50 Injured

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday April 10. — AP

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday April 10. — AP

The Presidential Palace said in a statement released here "announcing the so-called spring offensive speaks of the resolve of the Taliban group to continue the illegitimate war in Afghanistan" and the so-called Jihad or holy war of the Taliban in Afghanistan has no legitimacy.

Talks between the United States and Taliban have been making progress, and a deal is starting to come together, based around the U.S. withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Taliban promising to keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out of the country in the future. "The Afghan and world religious scholars have clearly said that the war in Afghanistan has no religious legitimacy and its continuance has no legitimate judgment".

Khalilzad said that all Afghans should condemn this announcement.

"The U.S. and our global partners will stand with Afghan security forces to continue our effort to end the war in Afghanistan, at the same time as we seek to bring parties to the table to negotiate peace", Khalilzad tweeted late Friday.

It comes as Washington has been holding several rounds of talks with the Taliban to put an end to 17 years of violence, the longest war ever waged by the US.

The Afghan government and the Resolute Support mission also reacted to the announcement.

Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council in Kunduz, said at least six people were killed and more than 50 were wounded as the insurgents attacked from multiple directions just after midnight.

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"The Taliban made an announcement this morning that they choose violence over peace".

The Taliban on Friday announced a new spring offensive, alarming the U.S. negotiator who has been sitting with the militants to seek an end to more than 17 years of war. This is meant to facilitate ongoing US-Taliban peace talks. "We have a tremendous opportunity for peace".

A Taleban statement said the objective of the Al-Fath ("Victory") offensive was "eradicating occupation, cleansing our Muslim homeland from invasion and corruption, establishing an Islamic system along with defending and serving our believing fellow countrymen".

"Our jihadi obligation has not yet ended", the Taliban said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid responded a day later by condemning Khalilzad's remarks and saying insurgent "spring operations" sought to end USA -led foreign "occupation, attain sovereignty and establish an Islamic system" in the country.

At least 27 Taliban fighters have been killed in their attack on a government building in the province of Nangarhar, eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.

President Ashraf Ghani on April 2 approved the security plan for the current solar year as conflicts are intensifying between security forces and Taliban in different parts of the country.

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