Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At least 11 coal miners – all members of the minority Hazara Shia community – were kidnapped and reportedly killed in Machh town in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Sunday by unidentified gunmen.
The men were abducted at gunpoint and then taken to a secluded area in the nearby hills where they were attacked, according to various reports by Pakistani media.
It is believed they were kidnapped from their hostel located near a mine where they worked.
Reports suggest that the miners were tied up and either shot or had their throats slit after they were taken to the nearby hills.
However, a video clip that has gone viral on social media shows three bodies outside a room, suggesting that some of the miners may have been killed outside their hostel.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) says its operatives have prevented the assassination of a journalist in Khost province.
NDS in a statement said that its Special Forces have arrested two individuals who were trying to assassinate a reporter of Gharghast TV.
According to the statement, the two detainees were identified as Dindar and Rahmatullah who were belonging to the Haqqani network.
NDS stressed that the terrorist groups are attempting to target media activists.
At least five civilians were killed and nine others were wounded including head of Kapisa’s Ulema Council in a magnetic IED blast at the center of the province, local officials said.
The spokesman of Kapisa Police, Abdul Sheyq Shoresh told Reporterly that the incident happened when an IED blast targeted the vehicle of Mirwais Karimi, head of Kapisa Ulema Council in Sayad area of Mahmoud Raqi city at around 02:00pm on Sunday.
He said that Karimi was on his way from Kapisa to Kabul that the incident happened.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 203 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,502 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 8 deaths and 114 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 52,909 the number of total reported deaths is 2,230 and the total number of recoveries is 42,405.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Paktia, Takhar, Nangarhar, Bamyan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Parwan, Badghis, Wardak, Helmand, Laghman, Kunar, Ghor, Khost and Paktika provinces.
More than 130 civilians were assassinated last year, according to a New York Times tally. But not everyone is blaming the Taliban, whose peace talks with the government restart this week.
Afghanistan saw one of the most violent years in terms of assassinations in 2020, according to data published on Sunday by The New York Times (NYT).
Despite a lack of official figures, the NYT documented the deaths of 136 civilians and 168 security force members last year — one of the worst years in Afghanistan’s recent history.
Many of the killings are unclaimed, with many people blaming the Taliban. Others say government factions or militants from the “Islamic State” (IS) armed group could be responsible.
The NYT points out that the recent attacks reflect a shift away from the Taliban’s former strategy of targeting high-profile officials. Instead, the unclaimed attacks have been terrorizing journalists, civil servants and human rights workers as well as rank-and-file security forces.
Alongside the numerous assassinations, there were other large-scale attacks, such as the killing of over 20 students at Kabul University in November — an attack claimed by IS militants active in the country.
The revelations come as the Afghan government and Taliban forces prepare to restart peace talks in Qatar on Tuesday.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday said that he discussed with the delegation of the leadership of the Ministry of Education (MoE) of Afghanistan about the reforms and improvements of the structures of this ministry.
The Presidential Palace in a press release said that President Ghani stated that Afghanistan’s curriculum needs to be changed and that the natural sciences should be in line with international standards and the social sciences that are the source of Islamic traditions and traditions of Afghanistan should be strengthened more.
According to the press release, the Acting Minister of Education, Rangina Hamidi during the meeting said that the ministry is working on a national policy and seeeking for ways to crack down on corruption in the ministry.
At least five people were killed in a gas cylinder blast at the Baraki roundabout in Kabul city late on Saturday night, police said.
Kabul Police spokesman, Ferdaws Faramarz said that a fire broke out at a bakery located near a wedding hall in Baraki roundabout.
Residents at the area claimed that at least 10 people have been wounded in the incident.
The inhabitants added that the blast took place near a restaurant that hosts those who spend the night to obtain Pakistani visas.
Local officials in Herat province say government forces have succeeded in releasing the abducted passengers in an “immediate” move by unidentified gunmen.
Sayed Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat, has said at a press conference that by the launch of ground and air operations, the armed men released the passengers, but took away the bus and its driver.
He added that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the bus yesterday morning on the Herat-Torghandi highway.
Qatali did not mention the number of released passengers.