The death toll in separate bombings over the weekend as violence escalates in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The United States has welcomed the Taliban’s announcement that a three-day ceasefire would take effect in Afghanistan to celebrate the holidays of Eid al-Fitr, but urged the group to agree on a truce more in the long run.
“We welcome this announcement and any measures that will allow the Afghan people to escape violence,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news conference in Washington on Monday.
“We urge the Taliban to extend this ceasefire and order a significant reduction in violence,” Price said.
The Taliban said earlier Monday that the ceasefire would come into force later this week for the holiday, which takes place at the end of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
Hours earlier, a a roadside bomb blew up a bus in the southern Afghan province of Zabul, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens, Reuters news agency reported.
A devastating bombing on May 8 a school in Kabul it killed 58 people and injured more than 100, many of them schoolchildren.
The United States has been urging the Taliban to end attacks on civilians and the Afghan government’s military and police forces as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from the country before the September deadline. .
The United States is also urging the Taliban to agree to a permanent ceasefire and a political agreement to end the violence, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter.
2/2 But Afghans deserve much more: a political agreement and a permanent ceasefire. We therefore urge the accelerated negotiations between Afghans on a political agreement and the end of this meaningless war. This is what the Afghan people long for. The United States accompanies them.
– US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@ US4AfghanPeace) May 10, 2021
President Joe Biden has ordered most U.S. forces to withdraw from Afghanistan before September 11, the twentieth anniversary of the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington that led to the US invasion of the country.
The Biden administration has said the United States will maintain an embassy in Kabul and military capabilities to mount counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, even when U.S. troops leave.
“We will have resources in the region and capacity above the horizon, in case threats arise,” Price said Monday.
Over the weekend, a series of three explosions shook a joint school for boys and girls in a Shiite neighborhood in western Kabul when students were finish classes and head home.
The Taliban condemned the attack and denied responsibility. Price said the U.S. was still working to determine who was behind the blast.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday declared a national day of mourning after the deadly attack.
On Monday, separately in Kabul, Pakistani Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Ghani to offer Pakistan’s support for political negotiations with the Taliban.
“We will always support [an] A peace process “led by Afghanistan and owned by Afghanistan” based on the mutual consensus of all stakeholders, “a Pakistani military statement said.
General Bajwa was accompanied at the meeting by the British General of the Chief of Defense Cabinet Sir Nick Carter. The United Kingdom has about 750 troops among the 7,000-strong NATO contingent in Afghanistan.
In recent weeks, Pakistan has been negotiating with rebel fighters to persuade them to commit to the ceasefire, Taliban and diplomatic sources told Reuters.