Attack on Afghan Prison Dampens Chances of Peace Deal Success
A fragile three-day cease-fire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, in honor of the Eid al-Adha holiday, came to a crashing end on Sunday. A car bomb planted near a prison in the eastern city of Jalalabad and subsequent gunfights between prison guards and the attackers led to the deaths of 13 people, the wounding of at least 42, and the escape of dozens of inmates. The Taliban itself condemned the attack and claimed it had no hand in the matter, while Islamic State representatives, who were not a party to the cease-fire agreement, claimed responsibility. It is unclear how the latest incident will affect the already brittle peace deal being negotiated between the Afghan government, headed by President Ashraf Ghani, and Taliban leaders. In February, the United States and Taliban officials signed an agreement paving the way for the reduction of American troops in the country. Washington’s stated goal in reaching the agreement was to advance a peace deal between the two warring sides. At its height in the late 1990s, the Taliban controlled more than three-quarters of Afghanistan and enacted extreme Sharia law. It was overthrown in 2002 following the US-led invasion. Since then, the Taliban have launched countless attacks against Afghan troops and civilians, killing tens of thousands and clawing back control of about 20% of the land it had lost. Most of Afghanistan today is considered contested by the internationally recognized government in Kabul and the Taliban.