Afghanistan’s National Security Council said on Monday that the Taliban carried out 422 attacks in 32 provinces last week, killing 291 Afghan government security personnel. A security council spokesman said last week was the “deadliest of the past 19 years.”
The Taliban denied the figures and said the government was trying to hurt the peace process. “The enemy aims to hurt the peace process and intra-Afghan talks by releasing such false reports,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, told AFP. Mujahid said the Taliban did launch attacks last week but claimed they were mostly in “self-defense.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the recent uptick in violence on Monday, which he blamed on the Taliban. Ghani said the violence is “running against the spirit of commitment for peace.”
Another attack occurred on Monday when gunmen opened fire on a car belonging to the Afghan attorney general’s office outside Kabul, killing five people inside.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the victims were prosecutors who were members of the team supervising the release of Taliban prisoners under the US deal. It is not yet clear who carried out the ambush, the Taliban denied responsibility.
The Afghan government has released 3,000 Taliban prisoners, and plan on releasing 2,000 more to fulfill their commitment under the US-Taliban deal. The Taliban have said they are ready for intra-Afghan peace talks after the remaining prisoners are released.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for the Afghanistan talks, took to Twitter to condemn the recent attack and called for further negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. “Both sides should not be deterred, and push forward to take the steps necessary to reach intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khalilzad said.