Abuja, Nigeria – On October 11, Angela Christian was in a throng of more than 200 people marching to Louis Edet Building, the police headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, when the protesters came face-to-face with a roadblock of water cannon and police.
It was the 24-year-old’s second protest – the first was against sexual violence back in June – and here she was again, on a Sunday blighted with heat, holding a haphazardly cut carton inked with “END SARS” to protest against police brutality.
The same words – calling out Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – echoed through the crowd; protesters chanted it even when blasts of high-pressure water from the cannon hit them. Brought to her knees, Christian’s mind told her things could get worse but, inspired by those around her, she raised a defiant fist.
“I was scared for myself because I also heard the police firing warning shots and using tear gas,” she said. “The police tried to disperse us because we were growing in number. We were peaceful and yet they attacked us just after it was announced that SARS has been dissolved.”
Three days after protests began on October 8 – a chain reaction after a video on Twitter showed SARS officers driving away after shooting a young man and leaving his body by the roadside – the police chief announced the dissolution of the unit. But this is the fourth time since 2017 the government has promised to disband or reform SARS.
Set up in 1992 to tackle armed robbery, car theft and kidnapping, SARS has become a widely-loathed police unit, notorious for unlawful arrests, extortion, brutality and carrying out extrajudicial killings. In 2017, the #EndSARS social media campaign began. But the unrest has reached a flashpoint over the last two weeks, triggered by continued acts of police brutality.
“We will never stop protesting until SARS are no more and the police is reformed,” Christian said.
That same sentiment can be felt in Lagos, where youth-led demonstrations have crippled vehicular movement and turned the Lekki toll gate – where several protesters were shot and killed on Tuesday – into a nexus of rebellion.
“I have been at two protests in Lagos but the one in Surulere is still in my memory because we were attacked by state-sponsored thugs,” said Kazeem Balogun, a 21-year-old university undergraduate. “They arrived in mass transit buses and some of us were beaten and wounded and the police around did nothing to help us.”
“This is now more than SARS because the Nigerian youth are fed up with the way this country has been running. Overpaid politicians, lack of security and social amenities. We want change.”
Reform vs abolition
While many Nigerians are prioritising police reforms in their laundry list of citizen demands, the concept of police abolition is also gaining support. But it has yet to break into mainstream political discourse.
“Abolition is a lifelong project. There’s never a better time than now to start, but we must never forget that we are in this for the long haul,” said OluTimehin Adegbeye, a Nigerian feminist and speaker observing the protests online who is also new to the framework of abolition.
“In my learning, I have come to realise that abolition means transforming not only policing, prison or the justice system, but also interpersonal relationships and how we think about punishment as a whole. It requires a complete shift in how we are in community with each other,” she said.
“The only way to seed this kind of thinking in public consciousness is to do so extremely deliberately, through political education and with understanding that it will take generations to take root.”
SARS is not the only concern for protesters out in the streets. The Nigerian Police Force has a grim record of unlawful killings and violence. This includes killing at least 18 people during their enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown measures and the use of water cannon and tear gas on peaceful #EndSARS protesters like Christian.
In disbanding SARS, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu announced a new tactical team (SWAT) would replace the now-defunct unit. But SWAT, like SARS, is still skewed towards operating within militarised paradigms of policing.
“Functionally, the Nigerian police currently plays a limited role as an institution,” said Ayo Sogunro, a Nigerian human rights lawyer and writer observing the protests from South Africa. He explained that issues like community security and traffic control are managed by other entities, which means the police only really operate in the sphere of violent crimes. “The entire fabric of our criminal justice system is wrapped around the use of the police as an agent of violence rather than as an impartial arbiter of the law.”
Sogunro is of the opinion the idea of a police institution, or even a police state, is deeply embedded in Nigeria’s national psyche – an outcome of its colonial and military history. As such, it is hard to see police abolition as a popular demand among Nigerians in the near future.
“But, indeed, the #EndSARS protest is opening up a space for this kind of conversation,” Sogunro added. “The important thing is that Nigerians are no longer thinking of police operations as immutable facts that cannot be contested by public opinion. Now that more are beginning to shine a spotlight on the internal affairs and external fallout of policing in Nigeria, then there’s a slight – but present – possibility that the whole structure of our criminal justice system, especially policing, will be called into scrutiny and a new, more humane form of providing human security will gain gradual acceptance.”
Violence on two fronts
“I believe that liberation is not possible in Nigeria without the abolition of the police, because police forces were essential to the disempowerment of Nigerian citizens,” said Damola Aluko, a Nigerian feminist based in Washington, DC.
“Throughout colonisation, to ensure that Nigerians were labouring for the benefit of British colonisers, police forces were created to force Nigerians to work in agriculture, mining and other forms of hard labour. These colonial police forces were extremely harsh. They killed and maimed thousands if not millions of Nigerians. They terrorised our ancestors in order to maintain the status quo and to stifle growth and development of our people.
“Today, that legacy carries on in how SARS terrorises Nigerians. Though SARS is not working as an entity of the British empire, it is a vestige of the British empire colonial regime. Ending SARS brings Nigeria closer to breaking the chains of colonisation.”
At the core of the #EndSARS movement is the Feminist Coalition, a group of Nigerian feminists fundraising to provide medical relief, logistics, security, and legal aid for detained protesters and other resources to sustain protests across the country. In some parts of Lagos, sleeping tents were provided for protesters staying overnight, food was distributed, and protesters who went missing were found quickly with their intervention. This model has drawn admiration from Nigerians and international observers, but it is also a stark reminder that women are fighting violence on double fronts: interpersonally and from the state.
Calls for police reforms will not diminish the harm the state still poses to marginalised communities of women, like sex workers and queer women, who are already criminalised, feminists argue. Obstruction to reproductive justice will not change. And while the police have been largely ineffective in facilitating justice for victims of rape and sexual assault, sometimes perpetuating these violations themselves, reforms cannot outgrow the punitive principles the state abides by – imprisonment for perpetrators, a slippery slope that exacerbates mass imprisonment.
The harm done to them is only resolved through a criminal justice lens, which does not stop it from happening again. “There are many things I consider very logical to push for as a feminist paradigm; abolition is only one of them,” said Adegbeye. “The Nigerian feminist space is however very occupied with navigating and surviving oppressive systems, rather than dismantling or abolishing them.
“We should also remember that feminism is still very much a taboo ideology in Nigeria, despite the immense progress that young feminists have made in propagating our ideas in digital spaces. We have only begun to make inroads into something as simple as holding rapists and sexual predators accountable for the violence that they perpetuate,” she added.
“We will get to abolition, I’m sure, especially given that this way of thinking is being embraced by the most influential civil rights movement in the English-speaking world, the Movement for Black Lives. But the Nigerian feminist movement simply isn’t anywhere close to that point yet.”
It takes a community
Some say the alternative to over-policing lies in community repair, in confronting insidious orientations that can lead to harm. It is about fostering community accountability or intervening when harm or wrongdoing is perpetuated, as was seen when a gay Nigerian woman was ostracised from protest grounds, and a man tweeted saying he would not let it happen again.
“It takes the work of the entire community to keep people safe,” not just the police, said Panthera Odum, a Nigerian scholar based in the US. “When this power is concentrated in one place or group of people, it will get inevitably abused. Investing in proper mental healthcare and a social safety net for all individuals is the most crucial start. People resort to crime because of poverty and unresolved personal traumas.”
He cited an example from South Africa, where parents and grandparents have formed groups to escort children in their townships to and from school, as a way to keep them safe from violence and kidnappings. “Organising watch groups like this cultivates a sense of accountability between oneself and the greater community.”
Alternatives to police are already part of how we live – we only need the imagination and the courage to stop believing that we need to outsource safety or justice to people in uniform.
“Police abolition is a process of decolonisation, literally and figuratively,” Odum said. “By getting rid of the police, we are rejecting the colonial notion that we as Africans are savage people who require harsh punishment and abuse to get ourselves ‘in line’. It is moving away from individualistic philosophies that exacerbate violence and crime, and moving towards holistic ideologies that emphasise the importance of community effort in public safety.”
It is “not productive” to talk about alternatives to the police in abstract, Adegbeye argued. “Policing as it exists today is the result of the capitalist colonial project, so we must approach abolition knowing that it requires us to rethink not only policing but our entire social-economic order. What is our relationship with private property? How do we (re)define crime, and what is the role of economic disenfranchisement in creating what we understand as criminality? What does justice really look like?
“Most of us navigate the vast majority of our lives without any police involvement whatsoever. We already know how to live without police; most of us still choose to mediate violence in community rather than going to this institution. This practice exists, for good or for ill, and it proves that abolition isn’t as unrealistic a goal as people might initially think it to be,” she said.
However, the vested political interests in policing in Nigeria make it difficult to centre abolition in the debate. Young Nigerians protesting in the streets are only just realising the power of organising and how it all could translate into political gains.
Kazeem Balogun is undecided about police abolition, mostly because he feels he needs to read more about the concept. He has seen how the Feminist Coalition has shown alternative possible futures for Nigeria where things can work with minimal interference from the police. But for now, he is charging ahead with the immediate task of protesting against police brutality. “The curfew imposed in Lagos will give us some time to energise and restrategise,” he said. “There are speculations that the government might shut down the internet and you know what? We will be out on the streets again.”
“Abolition is a futuristic project since it requires us to reorganise entire societies,” Adegbeye concluded. “At the same time, we vastly overestimate the value of police to us in our current reality. These two truths exist simultaneously.
“What that says to me is that the alternatives to police are already part of how we live – we only need the imagination and the courage to stop believing that we need to outsource safety or justice to people in uniform.”
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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