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Taliban has changed since 20 years ago, more cruel now: Ghani

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has captured dozens of districts, seized more land, and taken control of key border crossings with neighboring countries as US and Nato troops pull out of the country.

IANS | Kabul |

In remarks amid the escalating violence in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Taliban has changed since 20 years ago, adding that the turnaround has “been negative” and the group is more “cruel” now.

Ghani made the remarks on Sunday while addressing the inauguration event of what the Presidential Palace termed “electronic governance”, reports TOLO News. “What is their (Taliban militants) change? They have become crueler, more oppressive, more non-Muslim,” Ghani said.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has captured dozens of districts, seized more land and taken control of key border crossings with neighbouring countries as US and Nato troops pull out of the country.

“They have no wish for peace, for prosperity, or progress; we want peace but they won’t surrender (subdued people and government). They will not engage in meaningful negotiations unless the situation changes on the battlefield; therefore, we should have a clear stance. For this, there is a need for a countrywide mobilization,” the President added.

One of the main problems on the battlefield, according to Ghani, is the delay of payments to security force members. He asked government officials to avoid corruption and don’t make him “ashamed” among Afghanistan’s partners.

Ghani’s comments came as Afghan forces fought and bombed Taliban fighters and positions on Sunday as the group mounted offensives in major cities across the country. The Taliban also attacked the airport in Kandahar, the second-largest city of Afghanistan and the former stronghold of the insurgents, with at least three rockets overnight with the group’s spokesperson saying that the aim was to thwart airstrikes conducted by Afghan government forces.

“Kandahar airport was targeted by us because the enemy was using it as a center to conduct airstrikes against us,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters.

Authorities suspended flights out of Kandahar after the rockets hit the runway partially damaging it. The flight operations were restored later.