ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday strongly condemned the rocket strikes on Kabul, as heavy fighting broke out between security forces and militants in the Afghan capital.
The assault, which took place near the presidential palace and a mosque, came as President Ashraf Ghani was making a speech marking the first day of the Eid-ul-Azha holiday, days after offering the Taliban a conditional three-month ceasefire.
The Pakistan Foreign Office condemned the attack and urged all parties to respond to Afghan government’s offer for a ceasefire.
“Pakistan condemns rocket attacks on Kabul close to the presidential palace during Eid prayers and urges all parties to respond to the Afghan Government’s ceasefire offer,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also issued a strong condemnation of the attack. In a statement, he said the cowardly strikes carried out on the occasion of a religious festival reflected the defeatist mindset [of the terrorists].
We are with the Afghan government and people in order to completely defeat this cowardly mindset, he added.
The attackers appeared to be in a building behind the Eidgah Mosque in a central district of Kabul. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed that militants had taken over the building and fired several rockets.
The mosque is located relatively near the presidential palace, where Ghani was speaking. The sound of a blast could be heard in the background as his speech was aired live on Facebook.
President Ghani unveiled the government´s latest ceasefire gambit during an Independence Day address late Sunday, saying security forces would observe the truce beginning this week — but only if the militants reciprocated.
The truce offer was welcomed by the United States and NATO after nearly 17 years of war, but two senior Taliban commanders were said to have rejected the ceasefire offer.