Kabul to host peace summit after week of violence

Kabul to host peace summit after week of violence

KABUL - Agence France-Presse
Kabul to host peace summit after week of violence Kabul will host a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan today, as the capital reels from a wave of bombings and clashes that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded in the last week.

Much of Kabul remains on lockdown ahead of the conference, labelled the “Kabul Process,” with tighter than usual security including more armed checkpoints and armored vehicles patrolling the streets, and tight restrictions on civilian traffic.

Representatives of around two dozen countries will attend the meeting, which aims to build international support on ways to restore security in the conflict-torn country, the government said yesterday.

“The Kabul Process is meant to reach a consensus with the region and the world for peace in Afghanistan,” said presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

Kabul has been on edge since a truck bombing on May 31 in the highly fortified diplomatic quarter killed at least 90 people and wounded hundreds, the deadliest attack in the city since 2001.

Four more people were killed June 2 when hundreds of protesters incensed by the bombing clashed with police, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

The protesters, holding a sit-in for a fourth day yesterday near the bombing site, have demanded the resignation of Afghanistan’s security chiefs, including national security advisor Hanif Atmar.

And on June 3, at least seven people were killed when suicide bombers tore through a row of mourners who were attending the funeral of one of the protesters, the son of an influential Afghan senator.

No group has claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for May 31’s bombing.

Previous international efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have failed, but diplomats in Kabul hailed Tuesday’s conference as a stepping stone to peace.

“The launch of the Kabul Process tomorrow is an important marker for each and every country in the region to show its true support for Afghanistan’s aspirations for peace,” said Dominic Jermey, the British ambassador to Kabul.

“This includes taking steps to tackle the challenges posed by terrorist networks and to prevent terrorists receiving support, whether from states or individuals.”

The conference will be attended by a host of nations, including the United States, India, China and regional nemesis Pakistan, which Afghanistan has long blamed for sponsoring the resurgent Taliban.

The tense week of violence during the holy fasting month of Ramadan has left hospitals in Kabul overwhelmed, with many running beyond capacity to treat the injured.

The Italian-run Emergency hospital, seen as a medical lifeline, has voiced fears for the safety of its staff with protesters camped close to the facility.

“With the unfortunate events... in Kabul, our hospital has been put on the frontline,” Emergency said in a statement.

“To continue our work we are asking only one thing: Security around our hospital and not to be targeted intentionally.”