Afghanistan

Afghanistan
At least 25 Taliban fighters were killed in an avalanche while trying to cross into eastern Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan through a mountainous route, Afghan authorities said Monday.

"Twenty five Taliban fighters, some of them Pakistani nationals, died in an avalanche last night in a mountainous area of Zazi-Aryob district last night on their way to Afghanistan," Mohammad Lal Amiri, police spokesperson for the Paktia province - where the incident took place - told EFE.

Amiri said that the accident occurred when the insurgents were trying to cross the border from Pakistan amid snow-covered mountains through a risky route which is not under the control of the Afghan security forces.

Most of the bodies of the deceased had been recovered from the area and transfered back to the other side of the Durand Line, the long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan established through a 19th century agreement between the British and Kabul, which is not recognized by the current Afghan authorities.

The spokesperson alleged that the fighters had been sent to Afghanistan as part of preparations for the so-called "spring offensive," in which the Taliban intensify their attacks across the country.

"It is almost the spring season (...) Taliban are making preparations for their spring attacks, therefore they are now sending fighters from Pakistan to Afghanistan through risky routes," Amiri said.

The United States had recently warned Kabul over the possibility of growing violence in Afghanistan during the next few months as a result of the spring offensive.

The country has been witnessing a fresh wave of attacks, especially in the form of targeted killings in urban areas, even though the government and the Taliban are involved in ongoing peace negotiations in Doha since September.

The discussions, which came on the back of the historic February 2020 Doha agreement between the insurgents and Washington - including a clause about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by May 1 - have remained stuck without any significant progress.