Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Defence and the Afghan Army said at least five civilians were killed and three wounded in roadside explosions due to mines planted by the Taliban.
The 209 Shahin Corps said that two civilians, including a young boy, were killed in an explosion on Saturday morning when their vehicle struck a mine in Korak Arabi area of the provincial capital of Sar-i-Pul.
At least five security force members and a civilian were wounded in separate bombings in Gardez city of Paktia on Saturday morning, security forces said.
Zabul governor’s spokesperson Gul Aslam Sial told Reporterly that three civilians were killed, including two children, while two more were wounded, when their vehicle hit a Taliban-planted mine in the Chino area of Shahjoy district on Saturday.
The Ministry of Defence said Taliban carried out attacks on the Afghan security forces in the Char-Shanba Tapa are of Baghlan on Friday night. During the counterattack, five Taliban members were killed and four others were wounded.
At least 12 Taliban militants were killed in airstrikes by the Afghan Air Force in the Qurghan and Andkhoy districts of Faryab on Friday afternoon, the army said.
Taliban also attacked checkpoints in the Khash Rod district of Nimruz on Friday night, where 12 Taliban fighters were killed.
The Ministry of Defence said that a Taliban offensive in Malikhel’s security base in Sayed Abad district of Wardak, was countered, wherein 12 Taliban terrorists, including two of their commanders, were killed, and nine others were wounded.
The Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) announced that a National Railway Institute and the National Road Construction Institute will be established in Afghanistan.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Mohammad Yama Shams, Director-General of the Railway Authority and acting head of the MoPW, and Nadima Sahar, head of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training department (TVET) on Saturday.
Shams said that the agreement was an important step in building Afghanistan’s training and improving the capacity of railway and road construction staffs.
The MoU strengthens cooperation for the development of human resources between the MoPW and TVET.
The minister said that the other benefit would be that the currently employees of Afghanistan Railway Authority are sent abroad for training, but now part of the budget would be spent nationally with the establishment of the institute.
Sahar emphasized that TVET had undertaken specific programmes to upgrade the professional capacity of the railway and road construction sectors based on their needs.
She said this would provide an opportunity to improve the capacity and educational level of the employees of these sectors, give them internships, while also help with the placement of the graduates.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that the Taliban had killed 67 civilians in attacks carried over the past week.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian wrote on Twitter on Saturday, that Taliban insurgents had carried out 446 attacks across 27 provinces during the week, wounding 179 civilians.
Arian said the highest casualties were reported in Balkh province where 17 were killed and 72 injured, followed by Kunduz where five were killed and 28 were injured.
Taliban had carried out a bombing in Balkh on Tuesday morning where three people were killed and around 41 others wounded.
President Ashraf Ghani had warned the group to reduce the violence, “stop fighting and killing Afghans.”
The Taliban is yet to comment on the figures.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar met with the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Aripov welcomed Atmar’s visit to Tashkent and said Uzbekistan was ready to develop and expand relations in various fields with Afghanistan, including electricity.
He was referring to the deal signed between the two nations that would establish a 550kV power transmission line for Afghanistan to import electricity from Uzbekistan for 10 years.
The implementation of the agreement will ensure full power supply to Kabul and other provinces, which had been struggling since Tajikistan drastically reduced their power supply to Afghanistan.
Aripov called the signing of the agreement to increase electricity transmission from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan an important step in developing bilateral relations.
“Uzbekistan is cooperating in the development of trade, transit, and transport, especially in providing preferential tariffs on Afghan exports,” he said, and pledged $35 million for the development of a cargo transport infrastructure in Termez, near the Hairatan border crossing.
Atmar appreciated the Uzbek support for the plans and position of the Afghan government on the peace process.
They also discussed the extension of the Sarkhan-Pul-e-Khumri power line project, the formation of technical teams to conduct the feasibility studies of the Hairatan-Kabul-Peshawar, Hairatan-Herat-Chabahar and Hairatan-Herat-Kandahar railway lines.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said three new cases of Coronavirus tested positive in the past 24 hours.
The government’s laboratories in Nangarhar, Parwan and Daykundi provinces were able to test 60 samples in the past day.
The MoPH data showed no deaths had been reported while four patients had recovered.
The country has confirmed 38,143 COVID-19 cases so far, with over 29,000 people recovered.
Taliban insurgents suffered “heavy casualties” during security and defence forces operations in Kunduz province, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Saturday.
MoD spokesperson Fawad Aman said that 44 Taliban fighters were killed and 37 wounded in operations launched in the Imam Saheb district of the province.
The security forces also cleared a village in the district clear of Taliban insurgents, he added.
Kunduz police said that the operations had taken place in the village of Dehghan Qeshlaq.
The toll from Wednesday’s flash floods in Parwan have increased to 116 killed and 126 wounded, while the search for bodies continued on Saturday.
Wahida Shahkar, the Parwan governor’s spokesperson, told Reporterly that the numbers will continue to increase and change as search and rescue operations in Charikar were still underway.
According to the figures by the State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, about 160 people have been killed and 250 injured in floods across 14 provinces.
Thousands of acres of land and hundreds of homes were destroyed, with almost 5,000 people affected in Parwan alone.
The government is working with international aid organisations and the military to distribute aid to those affected and help with the rescue operations.
Two women taekwondo athletes were awarded a scholarship by the International Olympic committee (IOC) as they attempt to qualify for Tokyo 2020 which will be held in July 2021.
The Afghanistan National Olympic Committee (NOC) said that Somayeh Gholami and Zahra Mirzaei will gain funding from the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity Programme.
The pair join taekwondo athletes Farzad Mansouri and Mohsen Rezaei who also received direct financial support from the IOC’s Solidarity Programme.
Olympic-bound swimmer Mohammad Fahim Anwari has also been given financial backing from the IOC.
President Ashraf Ghani spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron about the Taliban prisoner release and the peace process on Friday.
The Presidential Palace said that the two leaders discussed the expansion of bilateral cooperation, the Afghan peace process, continuation of French aid to the country and the release of Taliban prisoners.
Macron assured Ghani of their support to Afghanistan and the peace process and emphasized that the Afghan government has fulfilled all its obligations to peace and that it was time for the Taliban to fulfil their commitments by announcing a ceasefire.
Paris especially assured Ghani of their continued support in the fields of peace and development.
This telephone conversation came after the peace consultative Loya Jirga approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners, following which the French Foreign Ministry had asked Afghanistan to not releasing some Taliban fighters.
France had said, “It [France] firmly opposes the liberation of individuals convicted of crimes against French nationals, in particular soldiers and humanitarian workers. As a result, we have immediately asked the Afghan authorities not to proceed with the release of these terrorists.”
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliatio, said last Thursday, that the intra-Afghan talks are likely to start the coming week.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar also said that the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners would be completed by the end of this week.
Qatar sent N-95 masks, medicines, pulse oximeters and other medical aid to Pakistan to facilitate Afghan refugees to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ambassador of State of Qatar Sheikh Saud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Friday handed over the consignment to Pakistani Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Khan Afridi.
Afridi expressed his gratitude to Qatar and said the donations would aid their work with Afghan refugees.