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Attack against Presidential Palace in Kabul

· Afghanistan’s President forced to interrupt a speech to the nation ·

At least 12 rockets were fired at Kabul’s Presidential Palace today, during President Ashraf Ghani’s live broadcast to mark the Muslim Feast of Eid- al-Adha (the Feast of the sacrifice). The sound of the rockets forced Ghani to interrupt his speech. “If they are thinking the rocket attack will keep Afghans down, they are wrong”, the President stressed. Immediately after the attack, armed clashes were reported between Taliban and security forces. Two of the attackers were reported killed. It appears that they wanted to take advantage of the confusion resulting from the launch of the rockets, in order to storm the Presidential Palace, fully armed.

A few hours earlier, the United Nations had commented favourably on the President’s recent proposal to insurgents, of a ceasefire beginning with a truce during celebrations of Eid al-Adha. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) appealed to “the parties to the conflict to seize this opportunity to put an end to violence”. Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said a “mutual ceasefire would further the prospects for talks to take place between the parties to the conflict to find a political settlement”.

After a series of bloody attacks by Taliban insurgents, including an attack on Ghazni two days ago, Ghani called for peace talks, after an initial truce of three days for celebrations of Eid al-Fitr in June. Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada had recently warned that there would be no peace until the country would remain under “foreign occupation” and that direct talks with the United States is the only solution to putting an end to the conflict which has caused so much bloodshed in Afghanistan since 2001.

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