Dozens Wounded In Blasts As Afghanistan Marks Independence Day

Cheryl Sanders
August 21, 2019

Tensions in the country have been high even though the Taliban and the U.S., which has thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, are reportedly getting closer to announcing a peace deal. The Taliban have refused to talk to the government.

Dozens of people have been wounded in a series of explosions in eastern Afghanistan as the country marked 100 years of independence from the British.

Afghans bury the bodies of victims of the Dubai City wedding hall bombing during a mass funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug.18, 2019.

So far no group has claimed the responsibility for the 14 bombs which struck the city.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan and is part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission there.

The US troops in Afghanistan train and advise Afghan security forces and conduct counterinsurgency operations.

Ghani said the wedding attack was an "inhumane" act, and he has summoned an "extraordinary" security meeting to review and prevent such security lapses.

Felicitating the Afghan government and people on the Independence Day, the foreign minister said the people of Pakistan enjoy deep rooted centuries old socio-economic relations.

Another condition of the deal is that the Taliban enter into negotiations with Afghan political leaders, a complex process that is likely to see some insurgent leaders join the government and attempt to overturn the political order and relative social freedoms ushered in by the 2001 USA -led invasion. Today, the United Nations says it numbers between 2,500 and 4,000 fighters, many from Central Asia but also from Arab countries, Chechnya, India and Bangladesh, as well as ethnic Uighurs from China.

ISKP later said the bomber had targeted a gathering of minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates deserving of death.

The bomber detonated his explosives near the stage where musicians were playing and "all the youths, children and all the people who were there were killed", said Gul Mohammad, another witness.

As Afghanistan mourned the 63 people killed in a suicide bombing at a Kabul wedding, a brother of the groom spoke through tears of his weariness at the bloodshed in the country and the crushing guilt he felt at having to face his neighbors, many of whom lost relatives in the weekend blast.

IS is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and overseas. With low security, weddings are seen as easy targets. It has invested "a disproportionate amount of attention and resources in Afghanistan", he said earlier this year, pointing to "huge arms stockpiling" in the country's east. This time the venue was a wedding in the western suburbs of Kabul.

President Ashraf Ghani called the incident a "barbaric attack", while Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah described it as a "crime against humanity". The Daesh affiliate's claim of the wedding attack said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter seeking martyrdom. The group has also expanded to northern Afghanistan. "There will be peace with one group, but war with another. I know that this won't be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue", he added.

The US had initially demanded a three-year time for withdrawal of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces; however, Taliban political representatives did not agree and wanted withdrawal in few months.

The Taliban condemned the attack, saying it is "forbidden and unjustifiable" and denied any involvement. The Taliban and IS have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force. They're now at their strongest since the US -led invasion in 2001, and effectively control half the country.

The issue also goes to the heart of a prospective deal between the United States and the Taliban that would see Washington begin to withdraw its approximately 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan.

Some analysts have warned that Trump's eagerness to bring at least some troops home ahead of next year's election could weaken the USA stance in the negotiations as the Taliban might see little need to make significant concessions.

But a deal could prompt an exodus of more radical Taliban fighters to join IS. But the American peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad insisted Taliban would stop fighting in whole country, the condition Taliban refused to accept this and termed it as Khalilzad's deviation his previous understanding.

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