On a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Thursday, President Trump said that the United States has reopened peace talks with the Taliban – just three months after the president scuttled negotiations between Washington and the Afghan insurgents following a terror attack that killed 11 people, including one U.S. soldier.
Trump, who made his first trip to Afghanistan under a veil of secrecy for security reasons, told troops gathered at the Air Force base for Thanksgiving dinner that the Taliban “wants to make a deal very badly.”
“We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly,” Trump said. “The Taliban wants to make a deal — we’ll see if they make a deal. If they do, they do, and if they don’t they don’t. That’s fine.”
The explosion occurred after the U.S. and Taliban reported progress in peace talks in Qatar earlier this week, and was the latest in a series of explosions and suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
Source: : NPR
The attack triggered an hours-long firefight at the base and the Pakistani forces said they killed 13 of the attackers, though it was unclear how many were involved in the assault. Apart from 16 slain inside the mosque, three guards employed with the air force and an army captain were also killed, officials said.
The attack was a major blow for Pakistan’s military, which stepped up operations against the militants following a horrific Taliban attack last December at a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children. It also underscored the ability of the militants to stage spectacular attacks on targets linked to the country’s military and government.
In Friday’s assault, the attackers first stormed the guard room of the Badaber base, according to air force officials. The base was established in 1960s as an air force facility but has mostly been used as a residential place for air force employees and officers from Peshawar.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said 13 attackers were killed by the security forces. He said the attack was quickly repulsed and that the bodies of the slain “terrorist” were lying on the ground in the base compound.
However, details about how the Taliban managed to make their way into the mosque, which is inside the compound walls, and gun down 16 people during prayers were sketchy.
Bajwa said the militants entered the base from different directions in a two-pronged assault — apparently one push targeted the mosque — but that security forces quickly responded.
It was also unclear if any of the attackers got away.
According to Bajwa and a statement released by the air force, along with those killed, 10 soldiers were wounded in the firefight with militants, along with an unspecified number of civilians. The dead and most the wounded were taken to a military hospital in the area, where access was barred to reporters.