New Delhi, July 1: A rival militant group the National Front for Freedom has claimed an attack on Taliban’s Loya Jirga gathering on Thursday in Kabul. The Freedom Fighters Front said in a statement that its special forces had attacked the Taliban gathering. The front said that the attack was aimed at eliminating the Taliban. According to local media, gunfire was heard close to the venue where the Taliban had been holding a ‘Religious Clerics Gathering’ to find a basic solution for the country’s current economic crises and job shortages. At the time of attack there were about 3000 clerics present at the venue including some of the top leaders of the Taliban.
It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in the incident, but videos posted on social media showed gunshots being heard in the area around the venue.
Taliban helicopters have started patrolling the venue of the ‘loya jirga’ after the attack. The Taliban has deployed security forces in strength across the capital, with the roads leading to the ‘jirga’ venue blocked and checkpoints being set up to avert any incident.
Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Taliban, tweeted that ‘there are no problems around the gathering, and security forces fired several shots at a suspicious location.’ Local residents told the media that gunshots were fired amidst two explosions when two insurgents stormed a building in the area, where they were killed by the Taliban forces.
The Taliban rulers have called a first loya jirga, a grand assembly of scholars and leaders from around the country, since the group took over Afghanistan last year, as they have been under mounting pressure to form an inclusive government to win international recognition.
A Taliban source told AFP that criticism of the government would be allowed at the three-day jirga starting from June 29, and thorny issues such as education of girls ï¿½ which has divided opinion in the movement ï¿½ would be discussed.
But ironically, women would not be allowed to attend, with deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi telling state broadcaster RTA on Wednesday there was no need because they would be represented by male relatives.
‘The women are our mothers and sisters… we respect them a lot. When their sons are in the gathering it means they are also involved,’ he said.
According to Afghan journalists, this so-called ‘Loya Jirga’ is a meeting of those clerics who have been supporting the Taliban. Not every Loya Jirga decision has stood its ground, nor has every loya jirga seen unanimous approval. In fact, there has been enough criticism of representation in these assemblies.
‘Loya Jirga is a bankrupt mechanism, which’s always been exploited to achieve a political end of a group or ruling elite of one ethnicity against the rest. Taliban know this and exploit it to their advantage against the rest of Afghanistan that reject them, their state-sponsor,’ tweeted Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Sri Lanka who has been opposing the Taliban. (The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)