At least 11 killed, including children, by landmine in Afghanistan

Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa

Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa

Political talks between the government and the Taliban have largely stalled as Washington pulls its troops out 20 years after USA bombing forced the Taliban from power. Many interpreters have already left the country on their own while several have been relocated by their former employers, for fear that after the withdrawal they will be more vulnerable to revenge attacks from the insurgents. "They shall not be in any danger on our part", the group said. Critics of the Biden administration's announcements anxious that the accelerating pace of USA withdrawal could leave some Afghans who worked with the departing American military in peril. Washington negotiated an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 to end what has been the longest American war in history.

On May 1, the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation began withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan. But he said "I don't think it's going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday, so I wouldn't necessarily equate the departure of our forces in July, August, by early September, with some kind of immediate deterioration in the situation".

An estimated 18,000 Afghans are awaiting word on special immigrant visas (SIV) to the US amid concerns President Joe Biden's administration might not be able to process them all in time. Biden has come under increasing pressure at home to move quickly to save lives of Afghans who risked their lives working with the American military.

The Taliban on Monday called on Afghans who worked as interpreters or in other jobs for USA -led forces to show "remorse" for their actions but said they were not in danger now that American troops are leaving the country.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said last Thursday the USA has "a special commitment and a special responsibility to these fearless Afghans".

"We are always seeking ways to improve the SIV process while ensuring the integrity of the program and safeguarding our national security and affording opportunities to these Afghans", Price explained to reporters.

In response to lawmakers' questions, Blinken said a backlog of immigration applications is being cleared, and he asked Congress to raise a cap on special immigrant visas for Afghans by 8,000 slots.

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But amid growing calls in Washington for an evacuation of the thousands of Afghans who served alongside US troops and diplomats, the Taliban issued an unusual statement. Since 2014, at least 300 Afghans who served as interpreters have been murdered by the Taliban, according to No One Left Behind, a veteran-led nonprofit devoted to helping Afghan and Iraqi interpreters. The conflict has killed hundreds of combatants on both sides and many Afghan civilians.

FILE - Afghan journalists film the site of a bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 3, 2021.

Islamic State militants also have stepped up bombings and other attacks against civilians who have borne the brunt of years of fighting.

No militant group, including the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred on Saturday, hours before senior Taliban leaders and United Nations officials met in Qatar to discuss the Afghan peace process, security for diplomats and people working for humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan.

Almost 1,800 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first three months of 2021 during fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations said in April this year.

Other U.S. officials, notably including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have said the U.S. will continue its "enduring and ongoing commitment to Afghanistan" and support its security forces, implying that evacuation for former translators and staffers might not be necessary. The group, which has portrayed Afghans who cooperated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troop presence as traitors and infidels, said that these former US partners had nothing to fear.

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