Afghan Peace Talks Delayed Amid Taliban Turmoil

Afghan Peace Talks Delayed Amid Taliban TurmoilAfghan Peace Talks Delayed Amid Taliban Turmoil

The confirmation of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death has thrown the fledgling Afghan peace process into disarray, with planned talks postponed.

Pakistan’s foreign office said a planned second round of meetings set for Friday would be delayed at the request of the Taliban leadership. The two sides held inaugural talks in Pakistan earlier this month, Al Jazeera reported.

“Pakistan and other friendly countries of Afghanistan hope that the Taliban leadership will stay engaged in the process of peace talks in order to promote a lasting peace in Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry statement said.

The news came after Taliban officials formally announced in a statement on Friday morning that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has been elected as the group’s new leader, a day after the group confirmed the death of its founder Mullah Omar.

The Afghan Taliban on Friday praised their new leader, saying he was one of the most “trusted” associates of Mullah Omar, a statement likely meant to rally followers behind the leadership at a time of a deeply fractured insurgency.

On the ground, the insurgency continued with Afghan officials saying the Taliban had blown up a major bridge connecting two districts of Kunduz Province the previous day, with police and been run out of another district when residents took up arms against them.

Afghan forces also retook control of Naw Zad district in Helmand Province on Friday after three days of fierce fighting with the Taliban, the officials said.