(KABUL, Afghanistan.) LATEST: #QatarPeaceTalks continue as at least 14 people have died and nearly 150 injured after a car bomb targeted a police station in the capital BBC reported on Wednesday after the #Taliban on Tuesday denounced a presidential vote due next month as a sham and threatened to attack election rallies #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceNewsReport – Aug.07: The explosion sent a large cloud of smoke into the sky and most of those wounded were civilians: The #Taliban have claimed the blast, which comes amid peace talks between them and US: Both sides say there has been progress which aim to bring a nearly 18-year war to an end: The #Taliban said it has targeted a “recruitment” centre and it had killed a large number of police and soldiers BBC News reported.

An Afghan soldier patrols in front of a bombed out building in KabulReuters: The Taliban has mounted a deadly insurgency campaign since their toppling in 2001

An end to the violence that has plagued Afghanistan for years is still some way off but the positive signals given after this weekend’s talks have raised hopes of a breakthrough: US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad had cited “excellent progress” in the weekend’s talks in Qatar, and said that technical discussions would continue.

Earlier this year, the BBC was given exclusive access to Afghan ambulance workers

The deal includes a phased US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used by extremist groups to attack American targets: The Taliban will also begin negotiations with an Afghan delegation on a framework for peace including an eventual ceasefire: The militants have been refusing to negotiate with the Afghan government until a timetable for the US withdrawal is agreed upon: The Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since it was toppled from power in 2001: Figures this year revealed Afghan and US forces killed more civilians in Afghanistan in the first half of 2019 than insurgents did: The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday denounced a presidential vote due next month as a sham and threatened to attack election rallies even as the militants and the United States reported significant progress on a deal to end America’s longest war.

The pact will be centered on a U.S. commitment to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise the country will not be used to plot terrorist attacks, both sides say: A Taliban commitment to talk peace with the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan will likely be part of the agreement, but many government officials fear their war with the Taliban will not end if U.S. troops leave: The Taliban, fighting to rid the country of foreign forces and create an Islamic state, called for a boycott of the election scheduled for Sept. 28: Foreign powers should focus efforts on the deal with the United States on “ending the occupation”, they said: “This election process is nothing more than a ploy,” the Taliban said in a statement.

President Ashraf Ghani is widely expected to win a second term and has insisted the vote must go ahead as scheduled: The U.S.-trained former World Bank official came to power in 2014 after winning an election marred by fraud accusations: The Taliban said their fighters would block the vote and warned of attacks: “Stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets,” the militants said: Ghani’s office said the people had the right to choose their leader and the government was ready to hold a transparent vote: “They should show peace through their actions and not threaten people,” the office said of the Taliban: The government is not involved in the peace talks because the Taliban refuse to deal with them, labeling them a U.S. puppet.

Ghani’s running mate, who last week survived a militant suicide attack on his Kabul office, condemned the Taliban as “sham Afghans” acting at the behest of old rival Pakistan: “They are created and backed to suppress a nation, bring about a medieval system in the name of religion to feed the greedy beast of Pakistani establishment,” Amrullah Saleh said on Twitter: Saleh, a former intelligence chief, is a fierce critic of Pakistan, which many Afghans accuse of backing the Taliban. Pakistan denies that.

“ Rights group Amnesty international condemned the Taliban threat, saying they were claiming to pursue peace but threatening to carry out war crimes by attacking election rallies”

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces: Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations. President Donald Trump has announced his aim to end the war: Both the U.S. peace envoy leading talks with the Taliban, and the Taliban reported progress in their talks in Qatar, where technical teams were discussing mechanisms on Tuesday: The militants control more territory than at any point since the United States bombed them out of power in 2001, and there has been no let-up in the violence.

Five people were killed and seven were wounded in a bomb attack on a government vehicle in Kabul on Tuesday, authorities said: U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter late on Monday, there had been excellent progress and the Taliban were equally enthusiastic, saying they expected an outcome within days: “Extraordinary progress,” said Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban political office in Qatar.

Khalilzad was in India on Tuesday and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar traveled to Uzbekistan for a three-day visit, Shaheen said.

#AceNewsDesk reports ……………Published: Aug.07: 2019: Reuters: Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Andrew Cawthorne

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