US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women

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FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo, Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi speaks to media before the "intra-Afghan" talks in Moscow, Russia. Koofi survived an assassination attempt, Afghan officials said Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said that Koofi was attacked late Friday afternoon near the capital of Kabul returning from a visit to the northern province of Parwan. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

KABUL – The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan warned that extremists groups are planning attacks against a “variety of targets” but are taking particular aim at women.

The warning didn't specify which organizations were plotting the attacks. But it comes as the Taliban and government-appointed negotiators are sitting together for the first time to try to find a peaceful end to decades of relentless war.

The "Taliban don't have any plans to carry out any such attacks," the group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told The Associated Press on Friday.

Peace negotiations underway in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, are in the initial stages, with participants still hammering out what items on the agenda will be negotiated and when.

Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said at the start of negotiations last weekend that spoilers existed on both sides. He said that some among Afghanistan's many leaders would be content to continue with the status quo rather than find a peaceful end to the war that might involve power sharing.

According to the embassy warning issued late Thursday, "extremist organizations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets in Afghanistan, including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.”

The embassy didn't provide specifics, including how imminent the threat is.

The Taliban have been harshly criticized for their treatment of women and girls during their five-year rule, when the insurgent group denied girls access to school and women to work outside their home. The Taliban rule ended in 2001 when a U.S.-led coalition ousted the hard-line regime for its part in sheltering al-Qaida, which was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.