Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Monday that 98 civilians had been killed while 230 others had been injured by the Taliban over the past two weeks.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian said that 328 civilians casualties were attributed to the Taliban across 24 provinces.
According to him, the highest casualties were from Nangarhar and Takhar provinces.
The Taliban have, in the past, rejected these reports.
This comes as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said their preliminary findings indicate that 20 civilians were killed and 39 injured on Saturday itself.
Afghan security and government officials confirmed that security forces suffered heavy casualties due to Taliban attacks in the past few days across the provinces of Kapisa, Takhar and Balkh.
Abdul Shayeq Shoresh, spokesperson for the Kapisa Police Command, said that Taliban millitants had stormed security outposts in Mashwani and Shah Kot areas of Tagab district at around 1 a.m. on Monday.
However, a security source told Reporterly that at least eight Afghan security forces were killed, including a commander. They also said that over 10 Taliban insurgents were killed and wounded during the attack.
Media reported that Mohammad Daud Sayed Khili, the commander of Shah Kot, was killed in an ambush by the Taliban while he had been on his way to provide reinforcements to the Mashwani checkpoint.
In Balkh, five Afghan security forces were killed and three were captured by the Taliban during an attack on a checkpoint in the Pala Posh area of Balkh district on early Monday morning, said Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesperson for Balkh governor’s office.
Meanwhile, in Takhar, six Afghan army soldiers were killed along with three police officers during a Taliban attack in Naw Abad village in Dasht-e-Qala district on Sunday night.
Provincial security officials in Kunduz said at least 17 Taliban fighters were killed in clashes with security forces on Sunday night.
Hijratullah Akbari, Kunduz Police spokesperson, said on Monday, the Taliban launched several attacks in the past day.
They attacked an army base in the Zakhil Qadim area of PD3 of the provincial centre, and were pushed back by the Afghan security forces, killing five Taliban fighters.
At least 12 Taliban fighters were also killed when the insurgents launched an offensive against security checkpoints in the Qanchagha and Sarak Qabargah areas of Imam Sahib district.
Akbari said, a local policeman was also injured in the clashes.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Monday, their preliminary show as many as 20 civilians were killed and 39 were injured, including women and children, on Sep. 19.
“We’re concerned by high numbers of civilian casualties and urge parties to take immediate measures to protect them, and create conducive atmosphere for Doha peace talks,” the organisation said in a tweet to mark the International Day of Peace.
They said civilian casualties, a key indicator of conflict’s intensity, had been lower compared to the past few years, however, they were still significant.
Civilian casualties on Sep. 19 were from the explosions that ripped through Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh, and the Jani Khel district of Paktika along with the airstrikes in the Khan Abad district of Kunduz which provincial officials claim, killed civilians along with Taliban targets.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to consider the demands of war victims and the general public as a key element in peace talks.
A statement issued by the AIHRC on the occasion of International Day of Peace, said that they welcomed the start and continuation of the intra-Afghan peace process and see it as a “unique opportunity” to end the war and suffering of the people of Afghanistan.
“The peace process should be based on universality and mutual understanding of the realities of the country and a common vision for a better future,” the statement reads.
The AIHRC said that the demands of the victims and the general public must be taken into account and recognised as a key element of the dialogue.
“The voices of the victims must be heard, their suffering acknowledged and their humanitarian needs met,” they urge.
The rights commission said that in order to reach a peace agreement, a wide range of measures must be taken to achieve victim-centred justice.
The main outcome of the talks and agreements should be a “lasting peace that creates a dignified life and equal opportunities” said the AIHRC.
At least 18 Afghan Army soldiers were killed and the status of five remains unknown after clashing with the Taliban in Wardak on Sunday afternoon.
Hussain Ali Baligh, a member of Wardak’s Provincial Council, told Reporterly on Monday, that clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces started near the provincial capital, Maidan Shahr.
He added that 18 soldiers were killed, 20 were wounded and five are missing.
He did not say anything about Taliban casualties.
A security source told Reporterly that six Afghan army soldiers and three policemen were killed during a Taliban attack in Takhar on Sunday night.
The source said Taliban had attacked security forces in Naw Abad village in Dasht-e-Qala district of the province.
The clashes lasted for an hour, injuring four other security forces.
The source said the Taliban also suffered casualties, but the exact numbers are not known.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said in the last 24 hours, 165 samples have been tested for Coronavirus and 30 were found to be positive, pushing the national tally to 39,074 confirmed cases so far.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Balkh (17), Herat (6), Kabul (2), Badghis (2), Kunar (2) and Parwan (1).
According to the MoPH, there were no recoveries and three deaths due to COVID-19 in the past day.
There are currently 5,054 cases active in Afghanistan, with 32,576 recovered and 1,444 deaths.
The High Council for National Reconciliation issued a statement on the occasion of International Day of Peace on Monday and said the Taliban are expected to accept the call for non-violence and a ceasefire in Afghanistan.
Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the Reconciliation Council, said that after 40 years of war and bloodshed in Afghanistan, the country was at a “historic juncture” as the Afghan peace delegation had been negotiating with the Taliban for the past week to secure peace.
“It is expected that the Taliban will also call for non-violence and ceasefire in the country and help lead to a peaceful future,” Abdullah said.
He stressed that Afghanistan has been burning in endless war and conflict, with many lives lost in the past.
“Unfortunately, the lives of Afghan people are still under the dark shadow of war and conflict, and every day, innocent people, women and children are sacrificed.”
The Reconciliation Council said people are “tired” of the war.
“History has shown that war is not the solution to disputes, and it is only negotiation and dialogue that can pave the way for a peaceful life,” the statement said.
In conclusion, the declaration stated that achieving peace depends on the definition of common values through dialogue, negotiation, tolerance, understanding and respect for human rights.
Sep. 21 is the International Day of Peace declared by the United Nations. It is marked to strengthen the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire.
The Afghan government’s and the Taliban’s peace negotiating delegations met in the Qatari capital of Doha on Sunday evening and in similar statements, said “progress” was made.
Nader Nadery, spokesperson for the government delegation said, “The session lasted a few hours and the rules and regulations of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations were discussed and progress was made.”
Naeem Wardak, Taliban’s political office spokesperson also tweeted that the meeting was held at 4:30 p.m.
“The working principles of the forthcoming meetings were discussed with a hope that a consensus will be reached on the remaining points and the next meetings will begin,” he tweeted.
The intra-Afghan talks began on Sep. 12 and since then the smaller “contact groups” of both parties have been meeting to finalise the 20-point agenda of the talks.
After over a week of meetings, there are disputes on three of the articles, media reports. These include the name given to the war, the choice of faculty of Islamic thought to be used for resolving disputes during the negotiations, and the Taliban’s demand to include the February agreement they signed with the U.S. as a foundation of the talks.
Faraidoon Khwazoon, spokesperson for the High Council for National Reconciliation, said the procedure for the Afghan peace talks will be finalised “soon.”
With an increase in clashes, targeted attacks and bombings over the past few days, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad called for a reduction in violence on Sunday.
“Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan. This escalation is regrettable as Afghans, including many civilians, are losing their lives,” Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.
With the peace talks being held in the Qatari capital of Doha, Khalilzad urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to refrain from violence.
“Given the recent start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations, it is imperative all sides reduce violence significantly,” he added.
Former president Hamid Karzai also expressed concern about the increased violence and said it was “deeply worrying.”
“The latest airstrikes in Kunduz and explosions in Paktia and Balkh, which caused casualties are highly condemnable. I urge the Afghan sides to fully focus on achieving quick results in peace talks and to bring an immediate end to violence against the Afghan people.”
Acting Minister of Defence Asadullah Khalid had said that the increase in violence may be a Taliban tactic for “making gains and bargaining better” with the Afghan government’s peace delegation.
Over the past few days, several provinces have witnessed heavy fighting with reports coming in from Balkh, Kandahar, Kunduz, Logar, Nimruz, Paktika and Wardak provinces.