Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Afghanistan affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) have condemned the heinous assassinations of Afghan journalists and call for swift action to locate and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The AIJA in a press release said: “AIJA strongly condemns the killing and call it a crime against humanity. AIJA shares empathy with his family and urges the Security forces to investigate the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“Afghanistan has descended again in terms of journalist safety in 2020 with at least eight media workers killed to date, up from six in 2019. The IFJ again implores that the Afghan government must increase its efforts to ensure the safety of journalists in this volatile space. Too often journalists are the target, often between internal conflicts and the quest for power. Journalists lives must be respected and defended,” The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger said.
Rahmatullah Nikzad, an Afghan journalist who has worked for Al Jazeera and Associated Press, was shot three times in the chest with a silencer pistol as he left home to visit a local mosque in the evening of December 21. The gunmen are yet to be identified. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Ghazni based journalist is the third media worker to be killed in Afghanistan this month. On December 10, female reporter Malala Maiwand, and her driver Mohammad Tahir, were shot and killed when assailants opened fire on their car as they left to travel to work in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar Province. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
On November 12, Radio Free Europe correspondent Elias Daei was killed in a targeted magnetic mine explosion in Lashkar Gah.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says at least ten civilians were killed during the first two days of the winter days and three more were wounded.
The commission on Tuesday in a press release said that the civilians were killed in the incidents in the provinces of Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar.
Based on the findings of AIHRC, two women and two children are among the killed and a woman is among the injured.
The Human Rights Commission has cited the assassination of Rahmatullah Nikzad, head of the Ghazni Journalists’ Union, the killing of doctors near the Pul-e Charkhi prison in a magnetic mine explosion in Kabul, and the killing of civilians in a roadside bomb blast in Kandahar.
Condemning the incidents, the commission said the killing of civilians is a war crime and inhumane acts.
The commission has called on the security forces to prevent such attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In the meantime, the commission expressed concern over the recent attacks on journalists and called on the government to stop such attacks in order to ensure the right of access to information and the media to continue their activities without fear.
This comes as Faryab and Khost provinces also witnessed landmines and car bombs explosions. Dozens of people have been reported killed and injured in a car bomb blast in Faryab province and a roadside bomb blast in Khost province also killed four civilians and wounded seven others.
President Ashraf Ghani met with US acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday afternoon, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said.
Arg in a statement said that the meeting was attended by the first Vice-President Amrullah Saleh and a number of other government officials.
“Both sides discussed on the Afghan peace process, the situation in Afghanistan and the region, and further support for the security and defense forces,” the statement said.
According to the statement, Christopher Miller emphasized the need to strengthen the strategic relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, and said that the US Government would stand with the Government and people of Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism.
The Acting Defense Secretary expressed concern about the escalation of violence in Afghanistan, and both sides called for a permanent ceasefire.
“He added that the United States has a continuing commitment to Afghanistan, especially in supporting its security and defense forces,” the statement reads.
In the meantime, President Ghani in return thanked the United States for its assistance and cooperation to Afghanistan in various fields, saying that relations between the two countries are strong and that these relations are based not on quantity but on quality and will always remain stable.
Regarding the peace process, the President said that the Afghan government has taken practical steps to ensure peace and that the other side must show its clear intentions in this regard.
President Ghani stressed that US-Afghan relations are essential to the joint fight against terrorism and the role of the United States in this regard.
Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib has held talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif on Tuesday in Tehran.
During the meeting, Iran’s FM said supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the principled policy of Iran.
He highlighted the necessity for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and said, “We believe a comprehensive political solution with the presence of all Afghan groups will be the best guarantee for lasting peace in this country.”
He urged both Tehran and Kabul to enhance consultations at bilateral, regional and international levels.
Zarif expressed satisfaction with the inauguration of the Khaf-Herat railway which came on stream recently, and added the project will pave the way for closer cooperation between the two countries and facilitating connections with regions in the East.
In the meantime, NSA Mohib in turn, presented a report on the latest developments pertaining to peace talks in his country, and appreciated Iran’s backing for the Afghan government and people.
He stressed the necessity of boosting political, economic and security cooperation.
The Afghan official also expressed hope linking routes such as the Khaf-Herat railway will further boost regional cooperation.
Among other topics on the agenda during the meeting were mutual cooperation on political, economic and security fronts, holding a meeting of the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Committee and following up on other ongoing projects as well as closer cooperation in the water sector.
Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, met with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon on Tuesday, along with other high-ranking officials, to discuss developments around the Afghan peace process.
The Tajik President has assured Abdullah, who arrived in Tajikistan on Monday, on an official two-day visit, of his country’s full support for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The two sides exchanged views on intra-Afghan talks, and bilateral relations, Abdullah’s office said in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon.
Underlining the mutual bonds between the neighboring countries, Abdullah thanked Rahmon for their continued support for peace in Afghanistan.
In addition to his meeting with Rahmon, Abdullah also held discussions with Sirodjidin Muhriddin, Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister.
They exchanged views on Afghan Peace Process, talks with Taliban and bilateral relations,” Abdullah’s office tweeted.
On Monday, Abdullah met with Qohir Rasulzoda, Tajikistan’s prime minister and said later in the day their meeting had been constructive.
“We discussed the Afghan Peace Process, peace talks, regional support for peace, bilateral relations. He assured me of his country’s full support for the peace efforts,” Abdullah stated late Monday.
Security officials in Baghlan province say at least two local Police were killed after Taliban attacked their outposts in Baghlan-e Markazi district on Monday night.
The spokesman of Baghlan Police, Ahmad Jawid Bisharat told Reporterly that the Taliban launched their attacks on two local police outposts from two fronts in Ghulam Bay village.
According to Bisharat, two more Police were also wounded in the incident.
He added four Taliban insurgents were killed two more others were wounded in the attacks.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 201 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,636 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 16 deaths and 83 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 51,089 the number of total reported deaths is 2,105 and the total number of recoveries is 39,784.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Takhar, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Parwan, Daykundi, Badakhshan, Logar, Laghman, Kunar, Uruzgan and Panjshir provinces.
Saleh Omar, district chief for Chardara district in Kunduz, was killed in a Taliban attack on Monday night, local media said quoting sources.
According to the reports, Taliban attacked Araba base in the district center on Monday night.
“When Omar was on the way to provide assistance to the forces, Omar and three other soldiers died in a Taliban ambush,” the reports said.
At least eight other soldiers were wounded in the Taliban attack on the base.
However, some other media said that at least 10 soldiers including Saleh Omar were killed and four others wounded in the ambush.
The source said that Taliban also captured two bases in the Araba area and seized all equipment and weapons
The Taliban detonated a laden-car loaded with explosives in the Dawlat Abad district of Faryab province market on Monday night, local officials confirmed Tuesday.
According to Provincial Governor Naqibullah Fayeq, the explosion left dozens of homes and shops destroyed.
He also said civilians were trapped in the rubble.
He did not however give details on the exact number of casualties except to say two soldiers had been killed and four others wounded.
So far no group including the Talbian has claimed responsibility for the attack
At least five people including four doctors of the Pul-e Charkhi prison have been killed in an IED blast in PD7 of Kabul on Tuesday morning.
The spokesman of Kabul Police, Ferdaws Faramarz said that the incident happened in Dogh Abad area of PD7 at around 07:33am this morning.
According to him, a Corolla type vehicle of the doctors of Pul-e Charkhi prison was the target of IED.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced the appointment of Ramiz Alakbarov of Azerbaijan as his new Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), serving also as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.
UNAMA in a press release said that Mr. Alakbarov succeeds Toby Lanzer of the United Kingdom, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service.
According to the press release, Mr. Alakbarov brings 25 years of experience in executive leadership, strategic planning and policy making, development programming and management, and humanitarian response, including as the Director of the Policy and Strategy Division in New York and the Country Representative in Haiti for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“From February to July, he was Deputy Executive Director for Management and Assistant Secretary-General, ad interim, for UNFPA. Since August, he was the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan, ad interim,” the press release added.