Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission and the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), Gen. Scott Miller told the Taliban to stop their attacks on Helmand.
“Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand province and reduce violence around the country,” Miller said in a statement released by USFOR-A on Monday.
“It is not consistent with the U.S.-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan peace talks.”
The USFOR-A spokesperson Col. Sonny Leggett also released a statement that they had conducted several targeted airstrikes in Helmand over the past two days to defend the Afghan security forces under attack from the Taliban.
“USFOR-A has and will continue to provide support in defence of the ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces] under attack by the Taliban,” Leggett tweeted.
Explosion reported in Lashkar Gah
Omar Zwak, spokesperson for the Helmand governor’s office, said five people were injured in an explosion in the provincial capital on Monday.
The blast took place at around 1 p.m. in PD1 of Lashkar Gah.
He said the explosion may have been caused by a heavy weapon, most likely a mortar.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Zwak reported clashes in the areas of Highway 601, Babaji, Nad Ali, Nawa and Yakhchal.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said at least 80 Taliban fighters have been willed and nearly 100 wounded in the counterattack by security forces.
Provincial officials claimed that five civilians were killed and seven were wounded when a Taliban mortar landed near Kunduz city on Monday morning.
Kunduz Police spokesperson Hijratullah Akbari said that the incident took place in the Shurabi Qeshlaq area.
Akbari said the victims included women and children.
Akbari blamed the Taliban for firing the mortar.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) also said that the Taliban had fired the mortar.
The Taliban is yet to comment on the incident.
Afghanistan saw a spike of 71 new Coronavirus cases within a single day, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported.
The government laboratories were able to test 565 samples in the past day.
The MoPH reported new cases in the provinces of Herat, Daykundi, Parwan, Bamiyan, Baghlan, Badghis, Kabul, Takhar, Kunduz, Nimroz, Ghor, Helmand and Khost.
Over the past day, there were two deaths due to COVID-19 and four people who recovered from the disease.
Afghanistan has confirmed 39,870 cases so far, of which 1,479 have died and 33,118 have recovered.
The sixth meeting of the Afghanistan-Iran Joint Border Commission was held in Kabul on Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said.
Both sides conferred on issues such as border security and called for closer collaboration between border officials.
Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab welcomed the Iranian delegation and said, “This meeting is an important platform for solving problems and presenting proposals for the development of exchanges between the two countries, especially in the border sector.”
He called the meeting a necessary measure for preparing a regular work plan for the modernisation of border signs, renewing the official border agreements, and opening the second Milak/Zaranj bridge in Nimruz.
They also discussed cross-border drug and people smuggling, and measures for the prevention.
Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Bahador Aminian voiced Iran’s readiness to expand bilateral relations with Afghanistan in various fields.
“We must pay serious attention to bigger problems such as drug and human trafficking at the borders,” Aminian said, and added that they should also consider ways to develop and expand trade and transit exchanges.
Security officials in Zabul reported the seizure of 15,000 K tablets in the security belt of the provincial centre of Qalat city.
Zabul Police Chief Hekmatullah Kochi said the drugs were seized on Sunday and were being smuggled from Pakistan.
The security official said that the smuggler was trying to reach Kabul but was arrested.
K tablets are very popular in Afghanistan but there is little understanding of the drug’s ingredients.
Kabul Police said unknown armed individuals shot two men in a pharmacy in PD18 of the capital on Sunday evening.
The police said unknown individuals shot Muzaffar Shah and Sayed Ali in the Abdul Rahim Shahid School area of Kabul city.
Muzaffar died of his injuries while Sayed is receiving treatment at a hospital.
Police said the preliminary investigation did not indicate any robbery took place or valuables were removed.
However, witnesses said that armed robbers had attacked the pharmacy and shot the owner before robbing it.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said they had launched counter-insurgency operations in Helmand, in response to the Taliban attacks.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian tweeted on Sunday that they had killed 71 Taliban fighters in the counterattacks in Nawa and Nahr-e-Siraj districts of the province.
Arian did not comment on any casualties of security forces in the operations.
The Taliban’s designated deputy governor for Helmand, Mawlawi Ghafoor, who was leading the offensive, was arrested by security forces in the Nahr-e-Siraj districts on Sunday evening, the Helmand governor’s office said.
They also said that fresh troops had arrived in the province to provide reinforcements.
For the past three days, parts of Helmand, including Lashkar Gah’s PD4, Chah-e-Anjir area, Nad Ali district and Highway 601, have been the scene of violent clashes between the security forces and the Taliban.
Abdul Majid Akhundzadah, a member of the Helmand Provincial Council, told Reporterly earlier that several security checkpoints around Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, had fallen to the Taliban.
A power substation was damaged in the ongoing fighting, cutting the electricity supply to Kandahar and Helmand, said the provincial Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) office.
As a result of the recent fighting, many families have been displaced from their homes.
With the highway closed for traffic, residents are also worried about escaping from the clashes.