Taliban urges U.S. Congress to release Afghanistan’s assets

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban on Wednesday urged the U.S. Congress to ease sanctions and release Afghanistan’s assets as the country faces economic turmoil.

Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a statement posted online that the frozen assets are harming the public, from the health sector to education and other services. His comments came a day after the World Food Program warned that millions of people in Afghanistan are facing poverty.

“American sanctions have not only played havoc with trade and business, but also with humanitarian assistance,” he said in an open letter to U.S. lawmakers.

The World Food Program warned on Tuesday that of Afghanistan’s nearly 40 million people, some 8.7 million people are at risk of facing “famine-like conditions.” An additional 14.1 million are suffering acute food insecurity, the WFP said.

According to the group’s report, 600,000 displaced people, as well as drought in the country are adding to the poverty.

The country also is struggling with the attacks mostly targeting civilians in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover in August.

An explosion hit a minivan in a Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding three others, a Taliban official said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, deputy minister for culture and information in the Taliban-led government, told The Associated Press that an investigation is continuing. He did not elaborate.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a blast on Saturday that killed one person and wounded five others. A roadside bomb struck a taxi in Kabul Monday, wounding two people.