Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At least four civilians were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Balkh province on Saturday evening, local officials said.
Adel Shah Adel, the spokesman of Balkh Police said that the incident took place this afternoon in Alamkhel village of Balkh district, along the Mazar-e-Sheberghan route.
According to him, a civilian car was traveling from Balkh to Jawzjan when it hit the roadside mine.
He added that all the occupants of the car were killed in the blast.
Adel added that the bomb has been planted by the opponents of the government.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Saturday released its findings on a bloody blast occurred in Ghazni province on Friday.
AIHRC in a statement said the findings indicate that the Friday’s blast was caused by the leftover of a mortar shel from war which killed at least 15 children and wounded 20 more.
According to the statement, the killed and wounded children had gathered to buy toys in exchange for scrap metals.
“Unexploded ordnance left over from the war causes frequent casualties of civilians, especially children,” the statement reads.
The commission also stressed that the warring parties are responsible for the victims of the incident and must clear the areas under their control and influence of unexploded ordnance left over from war.
AIHRC called on the Afghan government to take effective and timely action to treat the injured in yesterday’s incident.
At around 14:00pm on Friday, an explosion took place in Aghojan village of Gilan district in Ghazni province.
Local officials in Ghazni said the blast was caused by detonating of explosives in a tricycle when children gathered around it.
However, Interior Ministry’s spokesman Tariq Arian, said the incident was caused when a Zaranj type vehicle loaded with explosives detonated in a house.
According to Arian, the explosion took place during a ceremony of recitation of the Holy Quran inside the house.
This comes as the incident followed by harsh reactions and criticisms by the International Community.
A Chinese UN envoy has said that Afghanistan’s future arrangements should be broadly representative and inclusive.
“In our view, Afghanistan’s future arrangements should be broadly representative and inclusive, so that all parties, ethnic groups, and religious sects in Afghanistan can participate on equal footing and share state power,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council meeting on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
“The international community should fully respect the will of the Afghan people, and ensure the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiation process,” said the envoy.
“No external forces should be allowed to impose their will or seek gains,” Geng added.
Noting that the Afghan peace and reconciliation process “has now entered a period crucial to its future,” Geng said that “China welcomes the first intra-Afghan negotiations launched in Doha on Sept. 12 and congratulates both sides on reaching an agreement on the rules and procedures for negotiations a few days ago.”
“The next stage of negotiation will feature substantive discussions with a higher level of difficulty. Both sides need to show more political wisdom and resolve. The international community needs to increase its attention and input,” Geng added.
The US Defense Department has lost track of billions of dollars worth of military equipment supplied to the Afghan armed forces, has no effective mechanism for getting it back and expects the losses to continue, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report.
“SIGAR found that CSTC-A [Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan] inventoried only 40 percent of applicable articles during the 365-day period from May 2019 through April 2020,” the report said.
Additionally, SIGAR found that CSTC-A had not inventoried at least 678 of the 12,681 active items subject to enhanced end-use monitoring (EUM) requirements since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017, the report also said.
“According to CSTC-A officials, the command has never met its 100-percent inventory requirement and is unlikely to ever do so because the security situation in Afghanistan prevents some inventories from taking place,” the report added.
Without required inventories of some 60 percent of enhanced EUM-designated transferred articles which are among the most sensitive of all defense articles transferred to the Afghan government, the CSTC-A lacks a complete account of articles in use by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, according to the report.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, has called for a “comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process” in order to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan’s decades-long insecurity and instability can end only through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, involving all Afghan factions, including the Taliban, supported by neighboring, regional and international partners,” Takht-Ravanchi said.
He made the remarks while addressing a meeting of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan.
“We support the peace talks and believe that its successful conclusion requires flexibility and patience by all sides, placing the interests of the people of Afghanistan above all other interests. As we stated to SRSG Lyons in her recent visit to Tehran, Iran continues to call for further engagement of the United Nations in the peace process and stands ready, in coordination with the United Nations, to further contribute to this process,” he added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 105 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,123 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 17 deaths and 75 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 50,561 the number of total reported deaths is 2,032 and the total number of recoveries is 38,799.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Parwan, Badghis, Baghlan, Panjshir, Uruzgan and Jowzjan provinces.
Rockets fired by militants struck a main U.S.-NATO base in Bagram district of Afghanistan’s Parwan province, north of Kabul, on Saturday, with no immediate word on casualties and extent of damage.
The spokesperson of Parwan governor, Wahida Shahkar said that 12 rockets had been placed in a vehicle, five of which had been fired at Bagram Airport in Parwan province.
The remaining seven rockets had fallen into the hands of Afghan security forces before being fired, she added.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack, but in recent days the US military has launched airstrikes in Kandahar against the Taliban.
Taliban also warned that they would retaliate such a move if US airstrikes continued.
Russia warns that the IS-K, known as Daesh in Afghanistan, is building up its potential in Afghanistan to propagate extremist activities in the Central Asian countries.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Anna Yevstigneyeva stated that IS-K was behind many large-scale attacks in Afghanistan.
“We see that its Afghan wing has not taken to the woods, on the contrary, it keeps on building up its potential to propagate terrorist activities to neighboring Central Asia,” she said quoted by the State-owned TASS News agency.
“Let alone the fact, that cells of foreign militants, most of whom have combat experience after Syria and Iraq, continue to operate in that country,” she said.
“Among other sad incidents are an attack of the Kabul University and a missile attack on the capital city,” she pointed out.
The IS-K group was behind several deadly attacks, including the attacks on a college in the west of Kabul and Kabul University that claimed the lives of dozens of students.
The Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority has announced that PUBG was banned in the country after an assessment of the battle royale’s content.
This includes consulting with psychologists, civil activists, and parents, as well as with PUBG players themselves.
“The decision was taken to block this game on a temporary basis considering social and security perspectives,” ATRA chairman Omar Mansoor Ansari said.
Ansari added that there will be a continued investigation to find a more permanent solution.
The Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority looked at the gaming industry as a whole after discussing PUBG.
The board ended up identifying games that they believe have “negative impacts” on younger players.
As has been the case with organizations in some other countries that have taken similar actions, the ATRA also took the country’s culture and religious values into consideration when deciding what games are inappropriate.
The head of Vietnam’s permanent mission to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy has reaffirmed the country’s backing for Afghan-led peace process, including the engagement of women and youths.
Addressing a virtual UN Security Council briefing on the Afghanistan situation and operations of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Quy said that the continued support of UNAMA, regional countries and other international partners will be crucial to maintaining the momentum of peace talks in Afghanistan.
He urged all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, immediately stop targeting civilians and allow unhindered access to humanitarian services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strengthened efforts are also needed to combat the increasing presence of terrorist groups in the country, he said, emphasising that long-term peace and stability require robust development and sustainable livelihoods for the people. In that regard, the Afghan Government and international partners should continue to work together in promoting economic development and reconstruction.
He went on to express concern that 11.15 million people, more than one third of the country’s population, are facing high levels of food insecurity, and that number could increase to 13.15 million during the approaching cold weather months.
Pakistan on Friday urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to end violence and move for a cease-fire.
During a meeting with a Taliban delegation, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed concern over the rising violence and called on all sides for a reduction in the violence leading to a cease-fire, according to a statement issued from the prime minister’s office.
The Afghan Taliban delegation, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s deputy head, arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday.
Reiterating that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, Khan underlined that the intra-Afghan negotiations provide a historic opportunity to the Afghan leaders for achieving durable peace and stability through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
“The prime minister expressed hope that the Afghan parties would continue to build on the recent positive developments in the intra-Afghan negotiations,” according to the statement.
The Pakistani PM also assured his country’s consistent support to an inclusive, broad-based, and comprehensive political settlement and underlined the need to be vigilant about the role of spoilers, who continue to make attempts to disrupt and derail the peace process.
“Return of peace and stability in Afghanistan would provide a strong impetus to economic development, regional integration, and connectivity, benefitting Afghanistan and the region,” Khan said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Taliban delegation also met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.