Afghan flag flies over an observation post, Pekha Valley, Achin District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
Afghanistan

EU Debates Support For Afghanistan As Violence Escalates

Recent attacks in Afghanistan have underlined concerns that violence could spread once US and coalition forces withdraw.

Afghan flag flies over an observation post, Pekha Valley, Achin District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan

EU foreign ministers have been debating ways to maintain support for Afghanistan after an attack on a girls' school at the weekend underscored deep concern that violence will spread as US-led troops leave the country.

With the departure of foreign troops just a few months away, European governments are still trying to work out what kind of diplomatic presence they will keep in Afghanistan and who will provide security for them.

They are particularly reluctant to be perceived as abandoning the country.

Just hours after the Taliban announced a ceasefire for later this week, at least 11 people were killed and dozens more wounded when a bus hit a roadside mine in southern Afghanistan. 

On Saturday, a series of explosions outside a school in the capital Kabul killed more than 60 people, mostly schoolgirls aged 11 to 15.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said: "After the terrible attacks of recent days, it is all the more important for the EU to make very clear that Afghanistan and the Afghan government can continue to count on Europe's support.

"We will continue to make available sufficient funding for civilian reconstruction, and we will do everything we can so that the ongoing peace negotiations reach a conclusion."

Peace talks, though, between the divided Afghan government and the Taliban, appear to be going nowhere.

US B-52H lands at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to support withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan 040521 CREDIT US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The US sent additional troops and capabilities to the region last week to boost security for the withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Afghanistan (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The remaining 2,500 to 3,500 American troops officially began leaving Afghanistan on 1 May.

They are expected to be out by 11 September at the latest – a deadline set by US President Joe Biden.

In April, NATO also said it will begin removing its military personnel from Afghanistan from 1 May, aiming to complete its withdrawal "within a few months".

British troops are in Afghanistan in a training role as part of a NATO mission.

European troops depend on US forces for transport and logistics help and will leave with the Americans.

The US has openly also warned of battlefield gains for the Taliban and officials in Washington say Afghan government forces face an uncertain future against the insurgents as the withdrawal accelerates in the coming weeks.

Last week, the US sent additional troops and capabilities to the region to boost security for the withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Afghanistan. 

The increased support included six additional B-52 Long Range Strike bombers and 12 fighter bombers.

Cover image: Library photo of the Nangarhar Province (Picture: US Army).