On August 24, Monday, a high-level delegation of the Taliban negotiating team, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Pakistan to discuss the way forward in the Afghan peace process. The visit came a day after seven civilians, including three women and two children, lost their lives after a roadside bomb destroyed their moving vehicle in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, August 22. The incident took place in the Ghazni province, Tolo News reported.
No insurgent group has so far taken responsibility for the incident.
Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence despite repeated attempts at peace between the Taliban and Afghan government. Peace talks, which were originally set to begin on August 20, have been plagued by repeated delays. Taliban’s chief, Maulvi Hibatullah, on Monday, August 24, said he had handpicked a 20-member team that will have absolute decision-making authority in the upcoming intra-Afghan negotiation.
As per local reports, the governor of the eastern Paktia province, Halim Fedai, was also attacked in the Logar province. However, he escaped unhurt from the armed attack.
The conflict in Afghanistan, according to a United Nations report, has disproportionately affected women and children across the country. The direct and indirect impact of the armed conflict is felt strongly by civilians every day. In the first half of 2020, a total of 1,213 civilians lost their lives while 1,744 others were wounded in at least 880 incidents of violence in the country, as per the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Since the US-Taliban peace deal in Doha in February, no direct talks have taken place between the Taliban and Afghan government despite several ceasefire announcements in the past one year. US defense secretary Mark Esper recently in an interview said that the number of US troops present in Afghanistan will be cut down to 5,000 by the end of November 2020.