Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called on the government to thoroughly investigate the attack on the Kowsar-e Danesh education centre in Kabul and ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and duly punished.
In a statement released on Sunday, the AIHRC said their findings indicate that 25 students, men and women, were killed while 52 others were injured in the explosion in Kabul city’s Dasht-e-Barchi in PD13.
The Islamic State (Daesh) has claimed responsibility for the attack without providing any proof.
Condemning the “gross violation” of international humanitarian and human rights laws, and the rules governing internal armed conflicts.
“Targeting civilians is a war crime,” the AIHRC stated.
They called for an end to violence and killing of people and destruction of the country.
The Commission also urged the United Nations, Afghanistan’s international backers, Islamic countries and influential religious scholars to pressure both sides of the conflict to end the war and resolve the disputed issues through negotiation to achieve a just and lasting peace.
A funeral ceremony was held for the victims today in Golzar-e Shohadaye Danayee hill.
Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said on Sunday that as the Taliban did not want the current government, an interim government remains the only solution to peace in Afghanistan.
He emphasised that the current Afghan government wanted the war to continue and was not in favour of peace which could only be achieved if “all foreigners leave” the country.
Sharing details of his recent visit to Pakistan, he said the leaders there had assured him of their cooperation in the Afghan peace process.
Last week, Hekmatyar had given a press conference in Islamabad on Oct. 20 where he said that the U.S. had been “defeated in Afghanistan” and Washington had “no choice except to leave the country.”
Criticizing the ongoing peace talks in Doha, Hekmatyar said they were between the team of the Presidential Palace and the Taliban and are not “intra-Afghan” talks.
“These talks are not intra-Afghan talks, because there is no presence of many Afghan political parties in these talks, we are not there. There is a need for consensus first so that we can go towards talks with a unified idea,” he said.
During a talk at a think tank on Oct. 23, he warned that the only durable solution for peace in Afghanistan was that “the U.S. should withdraw its troops and a non-aligned, independent and sovereign government should be formed by Afghans in light of their beliefs and traditions without any interference.”
“Otherwise, the country would slip into another civil war,” warned the former prime minister.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that in the past 24 hours, 65 new Coronavirus cases were found positive from the 444 samples tested across Afghanistan.
According to the MoPH, three people succumbed to the virus while 106 have recovered in the past day.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (19), Balkh (10), Takhar (9), Kabul (8), Kunduz (5), Zabul (4), Kunar (3), Laghman (3), Nimruz (2), Kandahar (1),and Nuristan (1).
With the addition of new cases, Afghanistan has confirmed 40,833 COVID-19 cases so far, of which 5,190 are active, 1,514 have died and 34,129 have recovered.
Paktika security officials said that four children were killed in a landmine explosion in the provincial centre of Sharana on Sunday.
Paktika Police spokesperson Shah Mohammad Arian said the incident took place before noon in the Kotwal area of the city. He added that the children killed were members of the same family.
He claimed that the mine was planted by the Taliban at the entrance of the family’s house after warning them to leave the area three days ago.
After the explosion, residents moved the bodies of the victims to the city centre and demanded justice. They also called on the warring parties to end the fighting and the killing of civilians.
Arian said that the perpetrators of the incident have been identified and efforts are underway to arrest them.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the way towards reduction in violence in Afghanistan lay in progress in the ongoing intra-Afghan dialogue with Afghans working together to secure a political settlement.
Qureshi, who was talking to Speaker of Afghanistan’s House of Representatives Mir Rahman Rahmani, on Saturday, said that Afghans have a “historic opportunity” to work together and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.
“Progress in the intra-Afghan negotiations would help in reduction in violence leading to a ceasefire,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), noting that the mechanism provided the best platform to address all relevant issues.
The foreign minister also said there were enormous opportunities for trade and economic cooperation between the two countries which should be optimally utilised.
Rahmani also met Sadiq Sanjrani, chairman of the Senate of Pakistan. The parliamentary delegates exchanged views on topics of mutual interests including regional peace and economic cooperation.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad called the Takhar airstrike a “terrible tragedy” that claimed the lives of civilians.
Citing the report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Khalilzad said that 12 children were killed and 18 others, including the mosques’ mullah, were injured in an airstrike by the Afghan government forces in Takhar.
Offering condolences to the families, the envoy said: “This is a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, tragedy is not limited to Takhar. Civilians are victims of car bombs, IEDs [improvised explosive devices], and targeted killings perpetrated by the Taliban. Civilians have been forced to flee fighting in Lashkar Gah and other areas.”
Calling for an immediate reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire, Khalilzad pushed for an accelerated political settlement in Doha.
“The United States is singularly focused on this goal and is pressing both parties to reduce violence and find a path to peace as soon as possible,” the envoy said.
He also added that it was “vital” for Afghanistan’s independent media and civil society to be allowed to document current events, referring to comments by the First Vice President Amrullah Saleh last week.
The Ministry of Defence and First Vice President Amrullah Saleh had said the Oct. 21 airstrike killed Taliban fighters who were responsible for attacking Afghan security forces.
Saleh’s office said they arrested the person responsible for spreading “venomous and fake news” against the security forces.
Clashes between the Afghan forces and the Taliban militants continue despite the ongoing peace talks in Qatar which began in September.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said their special force unit killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior militant leader who was a key member of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), late on Saturday.
Al-Masri, who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Most Wanted Terrorists list, was killed in the Andar district of Ghazni province. Al-Masri, believed to be Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, also went by the name Huam Abd-al-Ra’uf, and was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI.
The head of the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Centre, Chris Miller, said that al-Masri’s death and “removal… from the battlefield… highlights the diminishing effectiveness of the terrorist organization.”
Late Saturday night, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) also announced that security forces had launched an operation in Nangarhar province and arrested key members of IS-K (Daesh) and the Taliban.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian tweeted that Qudratullah son of Mohammad Hazrat, deputy IS-K district governor of Spin Ghar, and Amir son of Hazrat, deputy Taliban district governor in Surkh Rod, were arrested.
He added that some military equipment was also seized during the operations.