EU condemns Taliban attacks, demands Afghan ceasefire
The European Union on Thursday condemned the Taliban's latest deadly attacks in Afghanistan and demanded "an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire".
In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU commissioner for aid and crisis management Janez Lenarcic accused the Taliban of breaking its promise to seek a negotiated peace.
"This senseless violence is inflicting immense suffering upon Afghan citizens and is increasing the number of internally displaced persons in search of safety and shelter," they said.
"The Taliban's military offensive is in direct contradiction to their stated commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the Doha peace process," the statement continued.
"Violations of principles of international humanitarian law and human rights continue to rock the country, in particular in Taliban-controlled areas, such as arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of civilians, public lashing of women and the destruction of infrastructure," it said.
"Some of these acts could amount to war crimes and will have to be investigated. Those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible must be held accountable."
The statement singled out three recent attacks in particular, one on the UN office in Herat, an offensive in Lashkar Gah that killed 40 civilians and an assault on the defence minister's residence in Kabul.
"The EU calls for an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire to give peace a chance," the EU officials said.
Fighting in Afghanistan's long-running conflict began to intensify in May, when US and other foreign forces began the first stage of a withdrawal due to be completed later this month.
The Taliban already control large swathes of the countryside and are now challenging Afghan government forces in several large cities.