Tuesday’s Taliban attack on Afghanistan presidential palace could derail attempts for peace talks to end 12 years of war, US and Afghan officials say.
The US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Jim Cunningham, condemned the attack and called on the Taliban to once again commit to the nascent peace process in Doha. “We remain steadfast in supporting the Afghan government and people against the scourge of terrorism and the violence directed against them,” he said.
US officials have been trying to rejuvenate peace talks in Qatar, thrown off course after rows last week over the opening there of a Taliban office.
The US envoy appointed to help Kabul pursue peace with the Taliban, James Dobbins, arrived on Monday and met Karzai and the Afghan body intended to negotiate with the insurgents.
He told reporters that Washington was trying to determine if the Taliban were willing to engage in talks.
In claiming responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said it had targeted the presidential palace, the CIA office and the defence ministry.
But Afghan security officials said they believed it had been carried out by the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network is accused of masterminding high-profile attacks in Kabul and is believed to have close links to al-Qaeda.
Adela Raz, a spokeswoman for Karzai, dismissed the suggestion that the palace had been under threat, saying any shooting had taken place far from the compound’s walls.
The defence ministry said the assault had been aimed at the Ariana.