Three rockets landed near the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 20, 2021 while Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was offering morning Eid prayers along with a group of other leaders to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
A live television broadcast showed the Afghan President and many others offering Eid prayers as the high-pitched sound of incoming rockets shattered the calm, following by loud explosions nearby. Most of the prayer party continued their prayers unperturbed while security guards were seen hurring in the background to the blast site.
Watch the video by TOLO news here:
Video by national TV shows the moment rockets landed near the Presidential Palace during Eid prayers this morning. pic.twitter.com/WmEniyfLfM
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews)
July 20, 2021
The spokesman for the Interior Minister, Mirwais Stanikzai confirmed that there were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds. The rockets reportedly landed in Bagh-e-Ali Mardan and Chaman-e-Hozori areas in Kabul’s District 1 and Manabe Bashari area in Kabul’s District 2.
Speaking at a ceremony after the Eid prayers, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani slammed the Taliban saying that they have “no will for peace”. He said that this Eid has been named after Afghan forces to honour their sacrifices and courage, the Taliban showed that they have no will for peace and added that “we will make decisions based on that.”
Taliban denies involvement
Taliban insurgents have denied any involvement in the attack. Nobody else has so far claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.
How will this impact Afghan-Taliban peace talks?
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani deplored his government’s decision to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners to get peace talks started last year as a “big mistake” that only strengthened the insurgents.
He said that while they released 5,000 prisoners to start peace talks, “until today the Taliban haven’t shown any serious or meaningful interest in peace negotiations.”
Peace talks were held recently between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban in Qatar. The two-day meet, which involved the highest level of negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban so far, was aimed at jumpstarting stalled talks but ended with a promise of more high-level talks.
Pakistan harbouring Taliban leadership?
The Afghanistan President in his address also blamed Pakistan for harboring the Taliban leadership and providing a safe haven and assistance to the insurgents.
Pakistan is seen as key to establishing peace in Afghanistan, as the Taliban leadership is headquartered in Pakistan. Islamabad has reportedly used its leverage to press the Taliban to talk peace with Afghanistan.
15 NATO members urge Taliban to end violence
•The representatives from 15 NATO members in Afghanistan, in a joint statement, urged the Taliban to put an end to the ongoing violence. The statement was issued by the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Korea, the EU Delegation and the Office of NATO and Senior Civilian Representative.
•The joint statement slammed the Taliban for threats, targeted assassinations in Afghanistan and destruction of infrastructures, declarations and other actions against the gains that were made in the past 20 years.
•The United States had recently termed the meeting of the Afghan government and Taliban in Doha as “a positive step” and noted that “more must be done urgently” as Afghans are suffering terribly from the war.
•The US Special Representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said in a series of tweets that only a negotiated political settlement can end this senseless violence.
The recent attack comes as the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces are in the midst of withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden had informed earlier that the United States will complete its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021.
However, in the past few weeks, the Taliban has been taking control of more and more territory in Afghanistan, forcing Afghan forces to launch a counteroffensive to thwart the insurgents.