Afghan conflict gets momentum since change in Taliban leadership

Kabul, May 31 (IANS) The turmoil in Afghanistan has got impetus since Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the Taliban group’s supreme leader.

“Kidnapping innocent passengers and barbaric killing over a dozen of them is clear indication of increase in violence committed by Taliban insurgents,” Xinhua quoted Kabul resident Farakh Shah as saying.

A group of armed Taliban militants intercepted three passenger buses and kidnapped 185 travellers, said the police.

“Like his predecessors, Haibatullah is in favour of war and would continue violent insurgency,” another Afghan Mahmoud Khan said.

Abducting passengers and killing over a dozen of them in Kunduz province took place amid ongoing fierce battle between government forces and Taliban militants in Helmand province that has left more than 200 militants and security personnel dead or injured over the past three days.

“A total of 118 Taliban rebels have been killed, 73 injured and 11 made captive,” a government official said on Tuesday.

Fierce fighting has been going on in Nahr-e-Saraj, Nad Ali and Gereshk districts, the official admitted, saying reinforcements would soon be deployed in sensitive areas to dislodge militants.

The official, however, did not mention the number of casualties the security forces suffered.

Meantime, an official said nearly 90 security personnel were killed and injured elsewhere in Helmand province since Sunday.

Taliban has confirmed the clash in Helmand province and claimed inflicting casualties on government forces in parts of the restive province.

Fighting between security forces and Taliban militants has also claimed over a dozen lives in the northern Faryab and Baghlan province over the past 24 hours.

Security forces captured a teenage would-be suicide bomber in Baghlan province; while bicycle bomb killed one person and injured 11 others in the eastern Ghazni province on Tuesday.

Afghans, generally believe Taliban under Akhundzada would intensify militancy as the new leader during his service as deputy to his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour had never advocated for peace talks with government.

Akhunzada was appointed Taliban supreme leader on May 25, four days after former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan province of Pakistan on May 21.



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