Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the country’s security forces Tuesday to resume offensive operations against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, following two separate attacks that killed dozens of people.
“I order all the security forces to end their active defense position, return to offensive postures, and resume their operations against the enemy,” Ghani said in a televised address.
No group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks in the capital Kabul and the eastern province of Nangarhar, but Ghani blamed the Taliban and ISIS.
“Today we witnessed terrorist attacks by the Taliban and Daesh groups on a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Nangarhar, as well as other attacks in the country,” Ghani said, using the Arabic abbreviation for ISIS.
At least 14 people were killed – including newborns and nurses – when gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in Kabul. A suicide blast at a funeral in the country’s restive east also left two dozen mourners dead.
The change in posture for the Afghan military comes months after they pledged to only react defensively to any Taliban attacks.
The move was meant to show good faith ahead of eventual peace talks, but the Taliban did not reciprocate, instead unleashing a wave of attacks that began the moment the insurgents signed a deal with the United States.
Ghani said a resumption of operations was necessary to “defend the country, safeguard our countrymen and infrastructure, and to repel attacks and threats by the Taliban and all other terrorist groups.”
The latest violence raises fresh questions about the fate of a hoped-for peace process that now appears in tatters, just as the country grapples with a slew of crises including rising coronavirus cases.