About 30 Taliban die in bombmaking accident, Afghan government says
By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 18, 2021
KABUL, Afghanistan — About 30 Taliban militants were killed when they detonated a bomb they were learning how to assemble, the Afghan Defense Ministry said.
The blast occurred last week at a bombmaking course in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province, the statement said.
Six foreign fighters were among the militants who died in the incident, the Afghan military said. While the foreigners were not identified, militants from abroad — some affiliated with al-Qaida — have trained Taliban fighters to make bombs during the last two decades of war in Afghanistan.
The Taliban are supposed to prevent Afghanistan from being a base for terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, under the terms of a deal signed last year that would lead to a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But the Taliban leadership continues to maintain ties with al-Qaida, with members of the terrorist organization integrated into Taliban forces and command structures, a new report said Thursday.
Last year, the guerrillas launched repeated attacks against Afghan forces as U.S. troops started to withdraw, in order to gain leverage in negotiations with the Kabul government, the report to Congress by the Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel said.
The Biden administration is weighing whether the Taliban are meeting their commitments as it decides whether to withdraw all troops from the country by May 1.
Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Reuters this week that Taliban violence is too high and could hinder peace negotiations if not curbed.
“Taliban violence is much higher than historical norms ... it just doesn’t create the conditions to move forward in what is hopefully a historic turning point for Afghanistan,” Miller said.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.