Who are the Taliban really? And how is it that they have so much power?
At least 11 civilians have been killed in northern Afghanistan when their vehicle set off a land mine, local government officials said on Sunday, accusing the Taliban of planting the roadside bomb.
Husamudim Shams, the governor of the northern province of Badgis, said the victims of Saturday’s blast included three children.
The 11 passengers were travelling to the city of Qala-e-Naw when they were killed, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
It occurred hours before senior Taliban leaders and United Nations officials met in Qatar on Saturday to discuss the Afghan peace process, security for diplomats and people working for humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan.
A Taliban spokesperson said in a statement on Twitter that Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy head of the Taliban’s political office “reiterated strong commitment to the Afghan peace process in the meeting” with UN officials.
While the Taliban delegation assured security to all relevant UN agencies staff and other diplomats based in Afghanistan, Afghan officials accused the Taliban of incessant violence against government forces and civilians in a bid to seize complete territorial control over several provinces.
In a 22-page report to the UN Security Council on Friday, a panel of experts said the Taliban are reported to be responsible for the great majority of attacks that have targeted members of security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists in recent months.
These attacks “appear to be undertaken with the objective of weakening the capacity of the government and intimidating civil society,” the panel said.
It added that the withdrawal of US and NATO forces by September 11, the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States, “will challenge Afghan forces by limiting aerial operations with fewer drones and radar and surveillance capabilities, less logistical support and artillery, as well as a disruption in training”.
Nearly 1,800 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first three months of 2021 during fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters despite efforts to find peace.