NDS chief claims Taliban has reneged on its accord with US

Ahmad Zia Saraj, head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), told a Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) session on Monday that the Taliban has not cut its ties with “foreign terrorists” nor has the group reduced levels of violence as per the US-Taliban agreement signed in February last year.

Saraj along with Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi were both summoned to answer questions put to them by MPs on the security situation in the country.

Discussing the Taliban, Saraj said the group has focused on targeted killings, especially against civil society activists and journalists.

According to Saraj, suspects involved in five of the last eight attacks, have been arrested and three attacks on journalists had been foiled.

The NDS chief said RDX was being used in most magnetic IEDs, but that ammonium nitrate and potassium chloride were also being used.

In his answers to the Wolesi Jirga, Andarabi said a new unit of the security forces comprised of Afghan police, Afghan army and the NDS has been established to focus solely on militant activities.

He said a trial of this new unit has been launched in Farah and the unit’s activities will be boosted by summer.

According to Andarabi, a number of Taliban attacks have been thwarted in the south of the country and at least 1,000 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand and Kandahar in recent months.

Andarabi said that the Taliban is conducting targeted attacks to create attention in the media and affect people’s trust in the government.

Andarabi also warned that the Taliban is preparing for a full-scale campaign for the next fighting season.

This comes after the Taliban on Monday accused the United States of violating its agreement with the group by conducting airstrikes against them.

However, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Sonny Leggett rejected the claim and said: “US Forces have been clear and consistent. We will defend Afghan forces against (Taliban) attacks. We renew our call for all sides to reduce violence,” he said.

“The Taliban’s campaign of unclaimed attacks and targeted killings of government officials, civil society leaders and journalists must also cease for peace to succeed,” he added.