KABUL: Unleashing a series of attacks on Afghan forces across the country, the Taliban said on Tuesday that they had ended a pact with the government and US-led NATO troops to reduce violence in Afghanistan, just days after signing the historic peace deal with Washington in Doha, Qatar.
In a statement, the group said more than 20 government soldiers and police officers had been killed in Kandahar — adjacent to the Helmand, Farah and Herat provinces which lie in the southwestern region — in one of at least 10 attacks.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Arab News that the Taliban had staged 33 attacks in 16 provinces since Monday, resulting in the deaths of six civilians.
He added that there were no immediate figures to ascertain the number of government troops killed in the attacks.
However, a spokesman for governor of Logar, which lies to the south of Kabul, said that five police officers had been killed in a Taliban attack in one of its districts.
“Government defense and security forces resorted to reciprocal acts for self-defense, killing eight of the enemies,” Rahimi said.
The attacks follow the release of a letter, allegedly issued by the Taliban’s military commission on Monday, which asks combatants to resume attacks on government forces since the violence-reduction week had ended.
When contacted by Arab News, however, Taliban spokesmen refused to comment on the letter.
The agreement for a seven-day reduction in violence, which concluded with the signing of a peace agreement with the US and Taliban in Doha on Saturday, was widely considered successful by soldiers and military and government officials.
“The reduction in violence was a confidence builder. We’re very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations. The US has been very clear about our expectations — the violence must remain low,” Gen. Scott Miller, America’s top general leading the US-led NATO coalition, said in a statement released late Monday night.
Part of the peace deal requires the departure of all foreign troops from Afghanistan in the next 14 months.
Speaking at a ceremony in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani taunted the Taliban for resuming attacks on Afghan troops.
“What sort of a jihad is this that they (Taliban) say we absolutely promise ... that they wont attack ... but kill Afghans and Muslims,” he said.
The resumption of attacks follows Ghani’s refusal to release 5,000 militants in exchange of 1,000 government soldiers held by the group.
Ghani said the exchange of prisoners could be discussed during an intra-Afghan dialogue which is set to begin on March 10.
Ghani and his government were not included in the peace talks because the Taliban views the Kabul administration as a “puppet of the West.”
The US has invested more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan since it led an invasion of the country after 9/11.
About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed since the invasion, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians.