Wednesday, 13 May 2020 6:01 AM [ Last Update: Wednesday, 13 May 2020 6:01 AM ]
Afghan security forces are seen outside a hospital that came under attack, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 12, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the country’s military to switch to offensive mode from a defensive one after recent violent attacks in the war-ravaged country.
“In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I am ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defense mode to an offensive one and to start their operations against the enemies,” Ghani said in a televised speech on Tuesday.
The comments came after three militants attacked a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, killing at least 16 individuals, including two newborn babies and their mothers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but in a statement after the attack, the Taliban said they had nothing to do with it.
In a separate attack on the same day, a terrorist detonated an explosive vest in a funeral ceremony in eastern Nangarhar Province, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68 others.
No individual or group immediately took responsibility for that attack, either.Violent attacks in Afghanistan kill, wound dozens, including at maternity hospitalTwo separate attacks kill some 31 people and injure many more in Afghanistan.
The presidential order to the Afghan military to change posture came months after the Afghan government adopted a defensive stance as part of efforts to save a so-called peace deal between the Taliban and the United States.
The move was meant to show good faith ahead of intra-Afghan peace talks, which to this day have not begun. The Taliban militant group, while involved in a piecemeal prisoner exchange with the Afghan government, has rejected an offer of truce for the Islamic month of Ramadan and has continued attacking government forces.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Tuesday terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, saying that the lack of a peace deal had left the country vulnerable to such “appalling” violence.
“The Taliban and the Afghan government should cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday.
“As long as there is no sustained reduction in violence and insufficient progress towards a negotiated political settlement, Afghanistan will remain vulnerable to terrorism,” he said.
The US signed the deal with the Taliban on February 29. Under the agreement, the militant group agreed to halt attacks on foreign forces in return for the US’s phased withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The militants made no pledge to refrain from attacking Afghan forces.
About 14,000 US troops and approximately 17,000 troops from NATO allies and partner countries remain stationed in Afghanistan years after the US-led invasion of the country that toppled a Taliban regime in 2001.