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Taliban Begins Anti-COVID-19 Campaign As They Refuse To Recognize New Afghan Government

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Taliban Begins Anti-COVID-19 Campaign As They Refuse To Recognize New Afghan Government

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The Taliban established their own committee to distribute information about the coronavirus and have been reportedly distributing masks and soaps in the areas they control.

In the Afghan province of Kunduz, Taliban representatives launched a campaign against the spreading of COVID-19.

Images of Taliban efforts to counter Covid-19 have surfaced in Afghanistan, which reportedly includes distributing masks in areas it controls.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted that a campaign had started in Paktika province, as well.

Afghanistan’s health ministry has reported 27 new Coronavirus cases on March 29th, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 145, Akhtar Mohammad Makoii reported.

Twenty-four of the new cases were confirmed in the western province of Herat, which is the worst affected area with 106 infections and borders Iran.

Citing “unofficial numbers”, the Afghan ambassador in Iran said yesterday that about 50 Afghans have died of coronavirus in Iran so far.

Herat’s governor has extended a partial curfew and warned that “difficult days are ahead” and asked people to respect the rules and stay at home.

Afghanistan has reported three deaths of coronavirus and five recoveries so far.

Regardless, Taliban have continued to launch attacks against the Afghan government forces, killing 13 troops in one incident, according to Afghan media.

Taliban refused to negotiate with Afghan’s new government. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban movement would not talk to the 21-member team named on March 26th as it had not been constituted taking all parties into account.

The team is headed by Masoom Stanekzai, an ex-security chief and supporter of president Ashraf Ghani, and includes politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society.

“In order to reach true and lasting peace, the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides so that it can represent all sides,” said Mujahid.

The spokeswoman for the Afghan ministry of peace affairs, Najia Anwari, said the Taliban’s stance was unjustified, as the negotiating team had been appointed after wide consultations among Afghan society.

Ghani’s political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has not confirmed whether he will support the delegation, which is potentially important given his camp’s strong influence in the north and west.

Abdullah’s spokesman, Fraidoon Khwazoon, said that although the announced list was not final and there were “considerations that needed to be addressed”, it should not be rejected outright. “All sides including the Taliban should try not to lose the available opportunity for peace, by make illogical excuses. The Taliban should not lose the current opportunity.”

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo failed to mediate between Abdullah and Ghana to create an “inclusive” government during a visit to Kabul on March 23rd, and announced a $1bn cut in US aid to Afghanistan, which he said could be reversed.

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