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Daily News Analysis

Taliban intensify attacks as US withdrawal date approaches

Our Own Correspondent

The Americans are faced with fighting on two fronts in Afghanistan now: against the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government. They have intensified their campaign of destabilization in Pakistan.

Peshawar, Crescent-online
Monday February 24, 2014, 08:57 EST
Update February 25, 2014 - 19:32 EST

Even as American occupation troops launch more brutal attacks against defenceless Afghan civilians, the Taliban have intensified their operations as well.

On early Sunday morning (February 23) Taliban fighters stormed an Afghan army post in Ghaziabad district of eastern Kunar province, killing 21 soldiers. They also kidnapped seven others, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi confirmed.

The Taliban admitted to losing one of their fighters while two were injured during the daring operation. The army outpost is in a remote mountainous area of Kunar close to the Pakistan border.

Abdul Ghani Musamem, spokesman for the provincial governor, told Reuters news agency that the army had launched an operation to free the captured soldiers but police and army sources told media outlets fighting had stopped.

This indicates the rescue operation was unsuccessful and that the Taliban had managed to move to an area the Afghan army could not risk approaching.

In another unsettling development for the Americans, the Taliban announced suspension of talks over the exchange of prisoners. The Taliban have demanded the release of five of their members from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. He was captured by the Taliban in 2009.

A Taliban spokesman said the talks were suspended due to the "complexity" of the situation in Afghanistan without elaborating.

"The leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the issue for some time," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an email to media organisations on Sunday. "Therefore, the prisoner exchange process has been delayed until further notice," Mujahid said.

In another blow to US plans to stay indefinitely in Afghanistan, a survey among Americans has found that 49 percent are now opposed to the war in Afghanistan. This will certainly complicate President Barack Obama’s plans to continue to keep occupation troops in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) much to the chagrin of Obama and his staff.


PS: In our earlier report, we had mistakenly mentioned Zahir Azimi as Afghan defence minister. He is a spokesman for the defence ministry. Afghanistan's Defence Minister is Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. We regret the error.

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