Afghan Taliban urge Muslims to rise up over Gaza raids

KABUL Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:11pm GMT

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban guerrillas Monday called on the world's Muslims to unite and wage war against Israel in response to its air strikes that have killed more than 300 Palestinians in Gaza.

The Taliban, who lead an insurgency against the Afghan government and the Western forces backing it, also chided the United States and some European nations for not condemning the attacks, launched after a six-month cease-fire between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas expired.

"We expect that the Islamic Umah to throw aside the wings of negligence, rise up and wage ... jihad and practically help the Muslims of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan," the Taliban said in a statement on the group's website.

The al Qaeda-backed Taliban, toppled from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, are most active in southern and eastern Afghanistan, but have managed to spread their attacks to other parts of the country, including Kabul, since regrouping in 2005.

The Islamist group has vowed to drive out the nearly 70,000 foreign troops serving under NATO and the U.S. military's command in Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Afghan foreign ministry condemned Israel's attacks and demanded an immediate end to hostilities in Gaza.

Separately, a group of Afghans held a protest against the strikes in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif Monday, residents said.

(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin, Editing by Alex Richardson)

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