KABUL: Violent attacks in Afghanistan surged by 50 percent over recent months even as the Kabul government and the Taliban launched unprecedented peace talks in September, a US watchdog warned Thursday. Despite brief lulls during two temporary ceasefires over the summer, fighting has raged across the country as the Taliban launched devastating attacks on provincial capitals and security installations, with fears the violence may jeopardise negotiations.
Attacks against Afghan forces and civilians were 50 percent higher in the three months to the end of September when compared to the previous quarter, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said.
"Overall enemy-initiated attacks this quarter were also characterized as 'above seasonal norms," SIGAR's quarterly report to the US Congress added. The watchdog reported 2,561 civilian casualties this quarter including 876 deaths, up 43 percent from the April to June period.
The report's publication comes as scattered calls to boycott the ongoing peace talks have been raised following back-to-back attacks on education centres in Kabul claimed by the Islamic State group, but which some government officials insist were carried out by the Taliban.