Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The most serious threat to security of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s member-states is coming from Afghanistan, the post-Soviet security bloc’s deputy secretary-general, Pyotr Tikhonovsky, said on Tuesday.
As per Tass report, at the 5th high-level coordination meeting between the CSTO Secretariat and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Tikhonovsky said, “For our organization, the Afghan region is not easy.”
“We see everything that is going on in that country. We watch those processes taking place in Syria. We see that a number of militants of the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) are moving to Afghanistan’s soil. This is especially alarming. These hotbeds on Afghanistan’s territory will pose a rather serious threat,” the official warned.
“That’s why our cooperation in the CSTO’s framework for countering these threats is translated into conducting joint drills. One of them was carried out this year in Tajikistan with “the CSTO’s collective rapid reaction force,” he recalled.
The CSTO is a post-Soviet security bloc consisting of six member-states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia are observer states.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Naheed Esar has met with the Special Representative of the President of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev.
According to Uzbek media, at the meeting, Uzbekistan’s efforts to resolve the Afghan crisis, the priority areas of the country’s policy on economic reconstruction of Afghanistan were discussed.
Naheed Esar praised the policy pursued by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the wide integration of Afghanistan into the regional process, on practical assistance in full implementation of various infrastructure projects initiated by Uzbekistan.
The Afghan side is ready to continue to actively cooperate with Uzbekistan on training national personnel, the Afghan diplomat concluded.
Afghan local officials have confirmed that at least six people have been wounded in a road-side bomb explosion in Jawzjan province.
The spokesman of Jawzjan governor, Abdul Marouf Arz told Repoterly, “A vehicle of the employees of an Afghan gas company hit a roadside bomb in Jarqadoq area at around 10:00am on Tuesday morning.”
According to Arz, at least two soldiers, one engineer and three other employees of the company were wounded in the incident.
He noted that one of the wounded employees died as a result of deep injuries.
The spokesman of Jawzjan governor added that the incident area is one of the secure areas of the Jawzjan province, but the Taliban insurgents planted the bomb during the night.
The report, entitled “Preserving Hope in Afghanistan: Protecting children in the world’s most lethal conflict”, accuses the parties to the fighting, which has dragged on for some 40 years, of failing in their duty to shield children from its consequences.
As per the UN report, the dire predicament of the country as currently the world’s worst killing field, is an acknowledgement of the nearly 6,500 child fatalities and almost 15,000 others injured between 2009 and 2018.
The rate of child casualties has increased by some 11 per cent since 2018, which the study puts down to factors such as a surge in suicide bomb attacks and ground engagements between pro and anti-government forces.
“Even by Afghanistan’s grim standards, 2019 has been particularly deadly for children”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement. “Children, their families and communities suffer the horrific consequences of conflict each and every day. Those same children are desperate to grow up, go to school, learn skills, and build a future for themselves. We can, and must, do so much more to reinforce their extraordinary courage and resilience.”
In the statement, UNICEF reminded all parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, which require them to protect children, end the targeting of schools and health centres and allow access to humanitarian assistance.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said he wants to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan “with or without” a peace agreement.
The Trump administration is expected to announce plans to withdraw around 4,000 troops from Afghanistan, according to US media, after peace talks resumed a week ago between the US and the Taliban.
Esper told reporters that Austin Miller, the head of the NATO mission and US Forces Afghanistan, “is confident that he can go down to a lower number” of troops.
“At the end of the day, the best solution for Afghanistan is a political agreement” between the government and the Taliban, Esper added.
“But I think we can go down with or without that political agreement.”
Esper said he had not yet ordered any downsizing, noting that the decision was ultimately the responsibility of President Donald Trump.
About 13,000 US troops are currently in Afghanistan, though the number fluctuates according to rotations.
Pakistan has assured that it would continue to facilitate the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
The assurance was given by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his meeting with visiting US Senator Lindsey Graham.
Imran Khan said a broad-based and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States was important for peace, prosperity and development in the region.
In the meantime, US Senator Graham thanked the prime minister for Pakistan’s support to the Afghan peace process and reiterated his desire for a broader bilateral relationship with particular focus on economic cooperation, enhanced market access and increased investments.
At least 18 people including Police were wounded in a magnetic bomb blast in Mazar-e-Sharif city, capital of Balkh province on Monday morning, local security officials said.
The spokesman of Balkh Police, Adel Shah Adel told Repoterly that the incident took place as a result of a magnetic bomb blast near a Police vehicle in Alokozay circle, PD2 of Mazar city at around 09:20am.
According to Adel, at least 18 people including the national Police, traffic police and civilians were wounded in the incident.
“Five traffic Police, one national Police and 12 civilians are among the wounded,” Adel said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
At least ten civilians have been killed in a road-side bomb blast in Khost province, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said.
The spokesman of MoI, Nasrat Rahimi in a statement said that a vehicle hit a road-side bomb in Bokhana area of Ali Shir district which has been planted by the Taliban group.
“The incident took place at around 05:00a.m. (local time) on Tuesday morning,” Rahimi said.
He added that five men, three children and two women are among the killed.
The Afghan Special Forces have conducted a major offensive against Taliban compounds in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military said.
The Special Operations Corps in a statement said that, the Afghan Special Forces killed 11 Taliban insurgents during a raid, destroyed 3 compounds and 4 fighting positions of the group.
According to the statement, the Special Forces conducted the raid in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz.
The Special Forces also confiscated 12 weapons, 17 rockets, 6 boxes of Dshk machine gun ammunition, 4 boxes of PKM machine gun ammunition, 249 rounds of Ak-47 rifle ammunition, 50 grenades, 5 armored vests, 10 Taliban flags, 20 military uniforms, 3 IEDs, 5 motorcycles and some other military kits, the statement added.
Afghan local officials confirmed that an explosion took place in Alokozay Circle of Mazar-e Sharif city, PD9 on Tuesday morning.
The Balkh Police spokesman, Adel Shah Adel told Reporterly that the incident took place at around 09:20a.m. (local time).
Adel Shah Adel refused to give further details about the casualties and the nature of the blast.
A Chinese envoy has asked the international community to continue to support Afghanistan.
The international community needs to continue to help Afghanistan improve the security environment, advance the peace and reconciliation process and promote socio-economic development, said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The security situation on the ground is worsening with airstrikes and search operations, resulting in a considerable increase in civilian deaths. Terrorist groups remain active and drugs are still an important source of funding for these terrorist groups, Zhang told a Security Council meeting.
“The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan should be conducted in an orderly and responsible manner. The international community should provide training, funding and technical support to boost capacity building of the Afghan national security forces, and assist the country in effectively countering terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking, and other threats”, said Zhang.
On the peace and reconciliation process, he said the international community and regional countries have been actively promoting direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which have lent impetus to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
China calls on all Afghan parties to put the interests of their country and people first, seize historic opportunities and engage in intra-Afghan talks to reach an extensive and inclusive political framework as early as possible and open up the doors to reconciliation, said Zhang.
He also asked the international community to help Afghanistan promote socio-economic development and improve the humanitarian situation.
China will continue to work with Afghanistan in actively implementing the China-Afghanistan memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road cooperation and actively support the country in its reconstruction and integration in regional economic development, he said.