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Taleban calls on Afghans to expel US from Afghanistan

KABUL, Feb 15, (Agencies): The Taleban called on Afghans to expel the United States from Afghanistan on Saturday just as they said Afghan mujahideen fighters had done to Soviet forces 25 years ago to the day. In a statement issued on the 25th anniversary of the final Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, a national holiday for Afghans, the Taleban sought to connect the steady departure of US and NATO troops ahead of a year-end deadline to the end of the decade-long Soviet occupation. “Today America is facing the same fate as the former Soviets and trying to escape from our country,” the Taleban said in a statement emailed to reporters by Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesman for the group. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is calling on its people to deal with today’s invaders the same they did with the yesterday’s invaders,” he said, using the name the Taleban government used during its repressive 1996-2001 rule. In line with the so-called Geneva accords, a last convoy of Soviet soldiers crossed a bridge connecting northern Afghanistan with the then-Soviet Union on Feb 15, 1989. “We want to remind the Americans that we did not accept invaders with their sweet and nice slogans in the past. We eliminated them from the world map. God willing, your destiny will be the same,” the statement said. While US and NATO forces in recent years have pushed Taleban militants out of many areas of their southern homeland, they appear to be dug in across remote areas along the rugged Afghanistan-Pakistan border and insurgent violence continues. The United Nations said last week that civilian deaths rose in 2013 as fighting intensifies between Taleban militants and government forces that are taking over from foreign troops. Uncertainty about whether a modest force of foreign troops will stay beyond a year-end deadline continues due to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a security deal with the United States that would permit some troops to stay.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense minister has praised veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan as “true patriots” on the 25th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal. Sergei Shoigu said in a statement marking Saturday’s anniversary that Soviet soldiers’ heroism in the war was part “of the best combat traditions of the Motherland.” He added that the experience has proven useful for counter-terrorism and peacekeeping duties. The Soviet invasion began on Dec 25, 1979 and ended when the last units withdrew on Feb 15, 1989. On Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s initiative, the Soviet parliament recognized that the Afghan war was a mistake. According to Shoigu, more than 14,000 Soviet soldiers died and about 50,000 were wounded. The government of Sovietbacked Najibullah fell in April 1992 after Moscow withdrew support following the 1991 Soviet collapse. In other news, at least two civilians were killed and six others wounded in a suicide attack in Kunduz province of northern Afghanistan on Saturday, said officials. Deputy Police chief of Kunduz Colonel Ibadullah Talwar said that a vehicle carrying policemen, the apparent target, was damaged as a result of the bombing in Mohibullah Khan area of Khanabad district. He added that the men were passing through the area in a car when the bomber struck, killing at least two people and wounding six others. The police spokesman Syed Sarwar Hussaini confirmed that policemen had suffered no casualties in the attack adding that the bomber detonated his explosives- rigged motorbike near the pick-up at around 11 am.

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