Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
NATO Resolute Support Commander General Scott Miller asked the Taliban to stop the ongoing violence on Thursday.
Miller was speaking at a press conference in Parwan where he was checking on the rescues and recovery operations.
“I have always told the Taliban and the international community that the current violence must stop,” he said.
He said that if the violence continued, the Afghan security forces are ready to take action and the U.S. forces will stand by them.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that the long-awaited intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban will likely begin next week.
Speaking at an event of the Institute of War and Peace Studies on Thursday, Abdullah said the Afghan government’s negotiating team was prepared for the talks.
The Taliban have not yet commented.
Abdullah also did not comment on the progress on the prisoner exchange.
He referred to the Loya Jirga and said that the government had also convened it to gather the views of the people, and the Jirga’s decision shows that the Afghan people want peace.
Later in his speech, Abdullah said that the list of cabinet nominees has been finalized and will be announced next week.
Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said that with the “re-emergence of the Taliban Emirate,” war, violence, terrorism and drug trafficking will grow in Afghanistan and the region.
Talking to Russia’s ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov on Thursday, Danesh said that peace with the Taliban can be defined within the framework of national interests of the countries in the region, and that this process will be useful if it leads to political stability and the expansion of regional cooperation.
He said the Afghan government had been talking to build a regional consensus on the peace process over the past three months, and “fortunately” all allies agreed on “not reviving the Taliban Emirate.”
The second vice president stressed that if the Taliban Emirate returned, then it would only have a negative impact on the region.
Danesh also discussed issues such as strengthening mutual cooperation with Russia and development of regional cooperation.
The Russian envoy stressed on expanding bilateral ties, especially in the fields of politics and culture.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Thursday, that Taliban fighters opened fire on a civilian vehicle, killing four of the passengers in Parwan province.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian tweeted that Taliban had ordered the militants under their command to not take any action in the flood-hit Parwan province.
However, they acted “contrary to what they had said,” he wrote, by shooting at the car.
Four civilians were shot dead by the Taliban in the Sayed Bridge area of Bagram district on Wednesday, while four others were injured, Arian said.
Earlier in the day, Bagram district Governor Abdul Shakoor Quddusi had said that Taliban insurgents had attacked a security checkpoint in Sayed village, killing one soldier and four civilians, while injuring three more.
Quddusi said the incident took place at 2 am on Thursday, when Taliban fighters had shot at a car carrying civilians who were escaping from the floods in the province.
The governor had said an army soldier had been killed and another had been wounded in the clashes.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 16 new cases of Coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the Afghan tally to 38,129 confirmed cases so far.
The MoPH tested 275 samples in their laboratories in the past day.
The ministry reported five cases in Kunduz, three in Nangarhar, two in Kabul, two in Balkh, two in Takhar and two in Baghlan.
Nine people have recovered in the past day while no new deaths were reported.
The current figures in Afghanistan are 7,682 active cases with 29,046 recovered while 1,401 have died.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Thursday, they had arrested a nine-member terrorist cell in counter-terrorism operation by the Afghan National Police Special Forces.
Tariq Arian, spokesperson for the MoI said that the security operations in Kabul’s PD5 were carried on Wednesday night.
They arrested eight men and a woman, who had been planning to carry out a terrorist attack on Ashura mourners in the Kote Sangi area of Kabul city.
The ministry also recovered two suicide vests and six bombs.
The MoI also carried out another operation in PD12 of Kabul, where they arrested a group of five “terrorists.”
The ministry said it had taken strict security measures to commemorate Ashura and would not allow terrorists to disrupt the event.
The Taliban has formed a new 20-member team for holding the intra-Afghan talks and negotiating with the U.S., the militant group’s chief negotiator Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Wednesday.
Stanikzai told RFE/RL that he will be heading the new department which will also be tasked with selecting the location and preparing the agenda for the planned peace talks with the Afghan government.
In an earlier interview with the Associated Press (AP), Stanikzai said Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada had hand-picked the members of the new negotiating team.
AP said the negotiating team will have “sweeping decision-making powers” and 13 of the members come from the Taliban’s leadership council.
Stanikzai said the newly formed team is separate from the Doha-based Taliban political office, and will be in direct contact with the Taliban leadership.
The team will also have the authority to set agendas, decide strategy and even sign agreements with the Afghan government, AP was told.
“This is a powerful team … All decision-making powers are with the negotiation team,” Stanikzai told the news agency.
He also said that the intra-Afghan negotiations will be held in different countries and the Taliban’s team will be “ready for negotiations in the near future.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was committed to Afghanistan, in an address on Wednesday.
Ahead of the informal meeting with defence ministers from the European Union (EU), Stoltenberg addressed the German press on topics that would be discussed.
“We will address missions and operations. I will update the ministers on NATO’s presence in Afghanistan,” he said.
“We stay committed to our presence there [Afghanistan] because we believe that’s the best way to support the peace efforts and we see some encouraging progress when it comes to moving towards starting inter-Afghan dialogue, inter-Afghan negotiations to create a lasting and peaceful solution to the crisis in Afghanistan,” the secretary general said.
He also referred to NATO’s work in training security forces and said “building local capacity is the best way to prevent” the Islamic State from making a come-back in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The U.S. Department of State on Wendesday, announced a reward of up to $5 million for information toward locating and freeing two American nationals kidnapped in Afghanistan.
Paul Edwin Overby Jr., 77, was last seen in Khost province, near the border with Pakistan, in mid-May of 2014. He was conducting research for a book and may have been planning to cross the border into Pakistan for work.
His wife said in 2017 that Overby had been trying to arrange an interview with the head of the Haqqani Network.
Mark Frerichs, 58, had been living in Kabul and was kidnapped in early February 2020. He had moved to Afghanistan in 2010 and worked on construction projects throughout the country.