Thu, 25 Feb 2021

ISLAMABAD - The United Nations confirmed Thursday an attack on its convoy in Afghanistan killed at least five members of the local security force escorting it.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said its staff and vehicles were unhurt in the incident.

The convoy was traveling in the morning through the Surobi district, 60 kilometers east of the Afghan capital, Kabul, when unknown gunmen ambushed it.

UNAMA said the attack hit a vehicle of Afghan security personnel escorting the convoy. Afghan sources confirmed the assault occurred on the main highway linking Kabul to eastern Nangarhar province, saying the Afghan security vehicle careened off the road and plunged into a river after the driver was shot.

"The U.N. family in Afghanistan mourns the loss of five Afghan Directorate of Protection Service personnel in an incident today in Surobi District of Kabul," UNAMA wrote Thursday on Twitter.

No one immediately took responsibility for the deadly shooting, which comes amid an upsurge in violence in Afghanistan.

A string of almost daily roadside bombings in Kabul in recent weeks has killed high-profile Afghan figures, including government officials, judges, journalists and activists.

The bloodshed comes as U.S.-brokered peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government have halted since early January.

2020 deal with U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden's national security team is reviewing a peace-building deal the former Trump administration sealed with the Taliban in February 2020.

FILE - In this Feb. 29, 2020 file photo, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban... FILE - U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader, sign a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020.

The new U.S. administration says it is examining whether the insurgents have lived up to their commitments to help end the 19-year-old war.

The United States has reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 since signing the agreement, but the level of violence remains high, and the Taliban is largely blamed for this.

The February 29 pact requires all American and allied forces to leave the country by May 1.

Early indications from the Biden administration are that the Taliban has failed to reduce violence, cut ties with terrorist groups or make progress in peace talks with the Afghan government.

The Taliban has rejected the allegations and cautioned Washington against changing mutually agreed timelines in the agreement, saying it "will lead to a dangerous escalation" in the Afghan war.

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