Afghan govt insists on ceasefire at Doha talks as fighting kills 38

KABUL (Xinhua): The Afghan government has been demanding a halt in fighting and observing truce as peace talks continue in Doha amid increasing militancy and conflict in Afghanistan.

Faridon Khwazoon, the spokesman for High Council of National Reconciliation, who is accompanying the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha, told the Afghan media on Sunday that the government negotiation team’s priority is to cease fighting and observe a ceasefire to facilitate the talks to succeed.

The second round of talks between the negotiating teams of the government and the Taliban outfit resumed on January 5 and since then they held talks twice, Khwazoon said.

“The two sides held a meeting yesterday and would hold talks today,” Khwazoon told Tolonews. He also noted that the prime aim of the government negotiating team is to “halt fighting and observe ceasefire” so as to create confidence in the peace talks.

Khwazoon made the suggestion amid the rise in militancy and conflict as more than three dozen persons have been killed over the past 24 hours in the conflict-battered country.

In the latest wave of violent incident, Taliban militants stormed a police checkpoint in Rawza area outside Ghazni city, the capital of eastern Ghazni province, in the wee hours of Sunday and captured three policemen, provincial police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat said.

Similarly, fighting between security forces and Taliban militants claimed the lives of eight militants and injured five others in Charkhab area on the outskirt of Kunduz city, the capital of northern Kunduz province, on Sunday, provincial government spokesman Esmatullah Muradi has confirmed.

According to security officials, 38 fighters with a majority of them militants have been killed over the past 24 hours in Afghanistan.

Expressing support to the peace talks and confirming the meeting between the two sides, the spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, Mohammad Naeem said in his twitter, “the meeting was held in a good atmosphere, discussed the unification and arrangement of the agenda of the talks, and it was decided to continue these meetings.”