Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan forces intensified in northern Balkh and southern Logar province as warring sides fought to control checkpoints and the number of coronavirus cases in Afghanistan rises, officials said on Friday.
In recent weeks, the Taliban has attacked several provinces, ignoring a pledge to reduce violence as part of a peace deal signed with the U.S. government on Feb. 29.
The fighting also defies an appeal from international aid agencies for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says at least 179 new cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the country during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of MoPH, Wahidullah Mayar in a press conference said that the new cases include 75 cases in Kabul, 23 in Herat, 18 in Balkh, 16 in Jawzjan, 15 in Kandahar, 10 in Gbazni, 7 in Baghlan and five in Logar province.
He further added that the new cases also include 4 cases in Takhar, 3 in Ghor, 2 in Zabul and one in Zabul.
This comes as with the registration of the new cases, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in the country reaches 2469.
Mayar noted that the number of recovered patients reaches to 331 and the death toll rises to 72.
The Ministry of Interior confirmed that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has so far killed two soldiers of the Afghan National Police (ANP) forces.
Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, confirmed the deaths of the two police soldiers during a press conference in Kabul.
He also added that two other police officers who had contracted the disease, have recovered.
This comes as the Ministry of Public Health announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 2,489 across the country.
Officials at the Public Health department in Herat province say at least 23 new cases of the coronavirus were registered in the province.
The spokesman of Herat Public Health Department, Muhammad Rafiq Sherzai said 97 suspected samples of the coronavirus were registered in Herat which 23 of them confirmed positive.
According to Sherzai, the new cases include 14 men and 9 women.
He added that the number of people infected with the coronavirus in the province reaches 522 which include 344 men and 178 women.
The US envoy for Afghanistan’s peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, in tweets in the early hours of Saturday morning, said that the Afghan people should be united in fight against the coronavirus.
“The real war should be Afghans united against COVID-19,” he said.
Khalilzad stated that civilians still suffer from the ongoing war in Afghanistan despite the fall in casualties.
Citing the UNAMA report for Afghanistan for Jan.-March 2020, Khalilzad tweeted: “Because of momentum created by the Reduction in Violence in late February, civilian casualties fell 29% from the same period last year and are lower than any 1st quarter since 2012.”
“But civilians still suffer from IEDs, targeted assassinations, and other consequences of the ongoing war. To protect them all sides must act now to end the violence,” Khalilzad said.
“But the recent increase in the number and lethality of Taliban attacks endanger these gains,” he said, adding that “this violence has generated a violent response from the ANDSF. The result is an escalatory cycle which is complex but inarguably a negative trend that must be reversed.”
He also said that both the Taliban and the government need to accelerate efforts to release prisoners and lower violence, which is the fastest means to intra-Afghan negotiations and a comprehensive permanent ceasefire.
“Delay means more civilian losses from Afghans fighting each other,” he added.
The National Union of Afghanistan Workers & Employees said on Friday that approximately two million workers and employees have lost their jobs due to the spread of the coronavirus and preventive measures like the lockdowns in the cities.
According to the union, the political crisis is the other reason of the unemployment in the country.
“The political crisis, security threats, the lockdown of cities and the reduction in international aid strongly concerns us. We want all to pay attention to the situation and the problems,” said Marouf Qadiri, head of the National Workers Union.