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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday stressed the necessity of peace talks between the government and the Taliban to end the cycle of violence and slaughter that continues to afflict the country.
His remarks coincided with a bomb attack on a mosque during prayer time.
Ghani delivered his message on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr at the presidential palace in Kabul. It was his first Eid address since taking office last year. The Eid holiday follows the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is also month of spiritual reflection.
"The negotiations are the solution, the way, and this is what our nation wants, to end the bloodshed," Ghani said.
The president reiterated the need to make good with the Taliban as assaults by armed insurgent groups in the region escalate. The talks are necessary if the Taliban "want to join the political process," Ghani said. He thanked Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar for backing the negotiations.
But even as the president advocated rapprochement between the two sides, an explosion hit a mosque compound in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province in Sholgar district at about 8:30 AM. A large crowd of worshipers had gathered there for Eid prayers. The bomb killed at least three people and injured fourteen others, according to local reports. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
On July 7, the government and Taliban sat down in Murree, on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, for their first ever officially acknowledged face-to-face meetings. Many in the international community welcomed the development as a first step towards ending more than 13 devastating years of conflict in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 when hardline Taliban militants were removed from power by a US-led invasion.
The Afghan government and Taliban representatives were encouraged by the meeting, and pledged to continue the talks after Ramadan.
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