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Taliban fighters intensify attacks ahead of proposed peace talks
Taliban militants fighting the government to regain power have intensified their activities since the beginning of the new year with five suicide bombs rocking parts of conflict-ridden Afghanistan including Kabul in as many days.
On Monday, two suicide car bombs shook the fortified capital city Kabul and the second one, which came in the evening, claimed the lives of two people and injured 36 others, all civilians, according to police and health workers.
The Taliban outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack and in an online statement said that its car bomb, targeting a camp of foreign soldiers next to Kabul International Airport, killed several service members.
A day earlier on Sunday, a group of militants stormed the Indian Consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, triggering a heavy gun battle, which came to an end after three suicide attackers were killed and nine others including four civilians injured on Monday night.
Afghan political watchers believe that the increase in Taliban activities ahead of the proposed peace talks signals the armed outfit's decision to attend the negotiations from a strong position.
"The Taliban by organizing successive deadly suicide attacks want to demonstrate their military power ahead of the proposed peace dialogue to bargain for concessions," political analyst Khan Mohammad Daneshjo told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The quadrilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China will be held in Islamabad next week to map out ways in which talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban can reach an amicable solution to Afghanistan's lingering crisis.
The first ever face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with the mediation of Pakistan was held in the scenic city of Murree some 100 km from Islamabad last July.
However, the Taliban's new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor who replaced the former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar after confirmation of his death in early August, said the peace talks were a "meaningless practice" and called for pushing ahead with the so-called Jihad or holy war.
Mullah Mansoor's succession has divided the Taliban outfit, with the main factions being led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and Mullah Rasoul Akhund whose supporters have challenged Mansoor's leadership and fighting between the two sides has claimed hundreds of lives over the past couple of months.
"In my opinion, Mullah Rasoul's faction would join the peace process," Daneshjo predicted, saying that if Mullah Rasoul's faction joins the peace process, militancy will be lessened in the western region and pave the way for other insurgents to follow step.
"Naturally the standoff in war could end through negotiation and the Afghan conflict could be resolved," the analyst said.
Amid efforts to bolster the Afghan peace process, Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman of the Afghan government-backed peace body - the High Peace Council, in talks with local media, said the proposed peace talks backed by the U.S. and China is different from the past ones and could deliver.
[Source: Xinhua, Kabul, 06Jan16]
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