Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called for a ceasefire in the upcoming Eid al-Adha and urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to hold talks as soon as possible.
On Thursday, UNAMA tweeted a statement from their head Deborah Lyons, that it was time for both sides to bring peace in Afghanistan.
“For the good of all Afghanistan it’s time for both sides to lower levels of violence, release the necessary prisoners, call a halt to fighting over next week’s Eid and start talks immediately afterwards.”
The UNAMA statement further said that at a time when Afghans should be together, discussing peace in intra-Afghan negotiations, there is a “spiralling cycle of violence.”
“Terrible numbers of Afghans from all walks of life being killed or injured,” it said.
They said that the attacks in civilian-populated areas, including ground engagements, airstrikes and IEDs are inflicting an “appalling toll” on Afghans, with a disproportionate impact on women and children.
Urging the House of Representatives to relook at the national food aid programme, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh once more posted on his Facebook on Thursday.
Recognising that those who would benefit from the government’s Dastarkhan Milli may not be on social media, Saleh wrote.
“They are the voiceless community of Afghanistan,” he said.
He acknowledged that the people who are on social media do not represent the “poor of the country.”
“It is still timely for the Parliament of Afghanistan to apologise to the poor and the needy,” Saleh said.
He again emphasized that the World Bank money would “go somewhere else” if the House of Representatives delays further.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Saleh had berated the Parliament for rejecting the plan without trying to modify it so that help may still reach those who needed it.
The House of Representatives has yet to comment on any of Saleh’s remarks.
The Taliban attacked a People’s Uprising Forces base in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni on Wednesday might, killing seven Uprising Forces members and wounding nine, provincial officials confirmed.
The Uprising Forces’ Commander Zafar, who was wounded in the attack, died later, Ghazni governor’s spokesperson Wahidullah Jumazadah said.
According to him, the Taliban also suffered casualties, but no details were given.
The other eight Uprising Forces who were injured are in a stable condition, Jumazadah said.
Taliban also launched an attack in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni on Wednesday night.
Jumazadah said that 18 Taliban fighters were killed in an airstrike by the security forces during the attack.province also witnessed a Taliban attack last night.
Even as the Ministry of Defence said they had information on released Taliban prisoners returning to war, the Jawzjan governor’s office said they had arrested two Taliban members from the battlefield, who had been released from Bagram prison.
On Thursday, acting Minister of Defence Asadullah Khalid said that Taliban had not responded to the Afghan government’s goodwill gesture of releasing their detainees as some militants had returned to the battlefield.
“We have information that some of the released prisoners have returned to war, and some have even been killed,” the defence chief said.
This comes as the Jawzjan governor’s office said that Afghan security forces had arrested two Taliban members who had recently been released by the government.
The official statement from the governor’s office on Thursday said that the insurgents, including Baz Mohammad and Bashir Ahmad, were lying in ambush in the Faizabad district. They had been waiting to target an army supply train.
The security forces took action and were able to arrest the two Taliban members who had been detained nine years ago. They even had their release documents, the statement said.
The Chaman border crossing was reopened on Wednesday for transit trade, movement of NATO supplies, and people.
The border will stay open temporarily till Eid al-Adha, tribal elders in Pakistan assured.
Sadiq Achakzai, a tribal leader, said the crossing was reopened so that people stranded on both sides of the border can be home for Eid al-Adha.
Trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan had been suspended at the Chaman crossing in the past four months due to COVID-19.
This had let to protests and sit-ins since June in Pakistan, as nearly 100,000 people in the neighbouring areas were affected and left unemployed.
The Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) had also filed a case in the Balochistan High Court against the border closure.
The Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Establishment Ardab Shahzan addressed a meeting on the closure of Chaman border at the Parliament on Wednesday.
Shahzan said that the government was working to increase bilateral trade with Afghanistan, while keeping the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
A contingent of 128 soldiers from Portugal’s 5th National Force Detached left from Lisbon on Tuesday, to join NATO Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMGFA), about 40 more Portuguese military personnel will leave for Afghanistan on Aug. 4.
At the same time, there will be 175 Portuguese soldiers returning from the field by Aug. 5.
The new contingent is divided into three teams: 118 Army soldiers for the Rapid Reaction Force and National Support Detachment, who will continue the “demanding mission” of ensuring the security of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul; a team of eight Special Operations soldiers (two from the Navy and six from the Army); two other Army soldiers serving in RS Headquarters.
Minister of National Defence João Cravinho came to see off the departing contingent.
“The ceremony was symbolic in nature because the military had been in quarantine. But at least I was able to send a message of thanks that will be relayed to the entire contingent,” Cravinho tweeted later.
Trucks carrying goods worth almost $670,000 from Afghanistan crossed into India through the Wagah border shared by Pakistan since the reopening of the crossing, an Indian trade body said on Wednesday.
“The arrival of 14 trucks laden with dried fruits, mulethi [liquorice] and other assorted goods in the last four days till July 21 worth over ₹5 crore has brought back semblance of normalcy in the markets,” said Ashok Sethi, Director of India’s Confederation of International Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Pakistan and India had closed their national borders in March to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 15, Pakistan allowed the reopening of the Wagah border crossing to facilitate Afghan transit trade to India.
A company-sized unit of the Georgian Defence Forces (GDF) is on its way to join NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
A select company from the GDF Eastern Command, commanded by Major Zurab Tskhadadze, left for the mission in a formal ceremony at the Alekseyevka Mixed Aviation Base on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi on Tuesday.
The company of the Eastern Command will be joining Camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif in the northern Balkh province.
At the base the Georgian company will take over Quick Reaction Force tasks from their counterparts in the GDF 2nd Infantry Brigade for the next seven months, providing assistance to forces involved in peacekeeping missions. The Georgian unit will formally serve under German command at the base.
The 13th Battalion of the 1st Infantry Brigade from Georgia, which arrived earlier this month, has replaced the 12th Battalion at the Bagram Air Base in Parwan province.
Japanese state media said that authorities have detained a man in connection to the murder of Japanese doctor and aid worker Tetsu Nakamura.
The Japanese physician and honorary Afghan citizen who headed Peace Japan Medical Services and helped with irrigation projects that affected thousands of lives. Nakamura was gunned down on Dec. 4, 2019, in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province.
NHK, Japan’s public media organisation, said sources have told them that a man has been detained and is being questioned.
The detainee was apprehended during counter-terrorism operations in the eastern provinces. He has not acknowledged any involvement in the murder.
Sources also told NHK that two other men are also being investigated in connection to the murder.
Four men had been detained after Nakamura’s murder, but they had been released in June due to a lack of evidence.
A provincial spokesperson told NHK that it may take a long time for the murder to be solved.
Provincial officials said clashes between the security forces and the Taliban in the Khogyani district on Tuesday, led to 31 Taliban deaths, including 15 Pakistani nationals.
Ataullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the governor of Nangarhar, said while security forces reported no casualties, 15 Taliban were also injured in the clash.
Similarly, in Kandahar on Wednesday, Police Commander General Tadin Khan said security forces killed five Taliban members in Maruf and another nine in Arghistan districts of the province militants, and recovered Pakistani ID cards from the slain.
The information on the cards, identifies the dead as Abdul Ghani, Abdul Ghaffar, Sanaullah, Naqibullah, Obaidullah, Abdul Malik among others.
This is the third time this week, that Pakistani ID cards have been recovered from the bodies of Taliban killed in Afghanistan.
On July 20, airstrikes in Kandahar’s Takht-e-Pol province also killed 25 Taliban terrorists, including 12 Pakistani nationals.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the airstrike by the Afghan Air Force in Herat province’s Guzara district that left multiple civilians dead.
“The last 24 hours have been very violent in Afghanistan with many losing their lives,” the envoy wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“In Herat, photos and eyewitness accounts suggest many civilians including children are among the victims of an Afghan airstrike. We condemn the attack and support an investigation.”
The diplomat also slammed the Taliban for recent attacks in which many Afghan lives were lost.
“The Afghan people want an immediate start of peace negotiations and a settlement that is in their best interest. More graves will not bring negotiations forward,” he wrote.
“Rather than setting the process back, we urge all sides to contain the violence, protect civilians, and show necessary restraint as the start of intra-Afghan negotiations is so close,” Khalilzad added.
On Wednesday, local residents said that at least 20 civilians had been killed or wounded in the airstrikes, while official statements said the strike’s target was a Taliban gathering.