Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Local officials have confirmed that an explosion took place on Sunday afternoon in Mazar-e Sharif city of Balkh province.
The spokesman of Balkh governor, Munir Ahmad Farhad told Reporterly a child was wounded as a result of a magnetic bomb which went off in front of the Maimana Market in Mazar city.
No group takes responsibility of the incident so far.
The US Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass in a bunch tweets on Sunday said the US supports President Ghani’s announcement to “release three Taliban prisoners to promote peace” and “the decision to reassess their pending transfer following the attacks in Logar and Kabul on November 12 and 13.”
“Making peace means making hard choices, but it also requires a careful review of the conditions on the ground. As strategic partners, we will continue to work closely with the Afghan government on next steps,” Bass said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday the government would release Anas Haqqani, a leader of the Taliban’s Haqqani militant faction and two other commanders in exchange for two university professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks.
He also hoped that their release would facilitate direct talks between Afghan government and the Taliban for peace.
On Saturday the Afghan government halted the release of top Taliban prisoners amid the insurgents’ alleged failure to meet the conditions attached to the swap deal, President’s spokesman said.
Afghan Special Forces arrested a group of four armed robbers from PD 7 of Kabul City, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement on Sunday.
According to an NDS statement, the detainees were arrested during an operation of identifying criminal networks in Kabul.
The statement further added that the detained individuals identified as Hamed also known as (aka) Changez, Haji Raees, Matiullah aka Qari, Sidiquallah aka Sidiq Seyah and Muhammad Ishaq who were involved in harassment and extortion of people.
The National Directorate of Security also added that the four individuals had also attacked and wounded some residents of the city who had refused to pay the gang.
This comes as criminal activities have tremendously increased in Kabul city where a criminal incident is being reported almost every day.
Afghan security forces have arrested two key IS-K members and two militants loyal to the IS-K outfit following a search operation in eastern Laghman province, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Sunday.
The operation was launched Saturday night in Qarghayi district of Laghman, where two key members of the IS-K network were arrested and some arms and ammunition including a rocket launcher and PK-Machineguns have been confiscated, the ministry said in a statement.
Two IS-K affiliated insurgents have also been arrested following the overnight search operation from the same area, the statement added.
The security forces also found and defused an improvised explosive device (IED) during the raid.
The IS-K militant group has not made a comment on the report so far.
Pomegranate farmers in Kandahar province say they are feeling the squeeze this year, with business blemished by chilly weather, pests and export woes, AFP reported.
The prized crimson fruit, globally renowned for its reputed health benefits, is a point of pride for Afghan farmers, particularly in Kandahar province, where luscious pomegranates the size of small melons dangle from trees.
Every autumn, Afghans start drinking pomegranate juice as the fruit bursts into season. Vendors pile carts high with gravity-defying pomegranate pyramids and offer fresh-squeezed beverages.
But some Kandahar farmers say a fungal infection and destructive insects are taking a bite out of this season’s harvest, and they accuse neighboring Pakistan of new tariffs that are hurting the export market.
Former President, Hamid Karzai has stressed the role of cooperation by the regional powers particularly Russia and China for the stability in the region.
“We all including Afghanistan, Central Asian states, and particularly the region’s great powers Russia and China to fully and closely cooperate to control situation in the region and bring economic security and stability,” ex-president said during his address at the Astana Club held this week in Kazakhstan’s capital.
He declared that the US efforts to eliminate terrorism did not work in the past 18 years despite countless sacrifices and sufferings from the people of Afghanistan, but hoped that Washington also honestly help Kabul and other regional states in fight against IS-K terrorist group.
The former president also called for regional acts against terrorism in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization if the foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan failed to resolve the problems.
Former Consulate General of China in Karachi, Wang Yu has been appointed as the new Ambassador of China to Afghanistan.
Wang presented the copy of the Letter of Credence to the General directorate of Protocol Department, Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan.
Former Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, Liu Jinsong returned to China in August this year, to replace Sun Weidong as Director of the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry of China. Sun Weidong was assigned as the Chinese Ambassador to India.
The UK government and armed forces have been accused of covering up the killing of civilians by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a BBC report.
An investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times has spoken to 11 British detectives who said they found credible evidence of war crimes.
Soldiers should have been prosecuted for the killings, say insiders.
Its Ministry of Defense said it rejected the unsubstantiated allegation of a pattern of cover-ups.
The new evidence has come from inside the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) says a firing range was cleared the year before seven children died from a device allegedly left behind on a NZDF firing range in Afghanistan.
A Stuff Circuit investigation has revealed 17 civilians were either killed or injured in 2014 in connection with an unexploded ordnance left on New Zealand’s Bamyan firing ranges.
This includes seven children, aged between 5 and 12, who died in an explosion near the Beersheba Range.
But in a statement provided to Stuff prior to the publication of the story, NZDF said the firing range was cleared in 2013.
“After the NZDF PRT deployments finished in 2013, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) introduced a new standard for range clearance which was then adopted by the Afghan Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC),” the statement said.
NZDF said the range “was cleared in October 2013 by a contractor of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan, and was assessed as being free from landmines and explosive remnants of war.”
The Afghan government has delayed the exchange of three senior Taliban prisoners for two foreign hostages announced earlier by President Ashraf Ghani, a spokesperson said.
The Taliban prisoners “are still being held by the Afghan government. The inability of the Taliban to meet the conditions has caused a delay in the exchange,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.
The government “will review the exchange process in light of Afghanistan’s national interests,” he said, without providing further details.
Ghani announced the exchange on Tuesday, saying the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram prison would be “conditionally” released.
They include Anas Haqqani, who was arrested in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani Network, a notorious Taliban affiliate.
The two foreign hostages – American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks – were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms in Kabul in August 2016.
The Lower House of Parliament has assigned a delegation to probe the sexual abuse cases against the school students in Logar province.
The chairman of Lower House, Rahman Rahmani appointed a five-member delegation and called the members to seriously investigate the cases.
The delegation was dispatched following criticism by the lawmakers, who said the sexual allegation have harmed Afghans’ decorum nationally and internationally.
The lawmakers called the sexual abuse of students a cruel act and said that the perpetrators should be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law and judicial organs.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Education also assigned a delegation to investigate the issue.
The assignment of delegations comes after the Guardian newspaper published an investigative report of sexual abuse of “550 children and youth” from six schools in Logar.