Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The operatives of National Directorate of Security (NDS) during a special operation have arrested a six-member joint terror cell of IS-K group and the Haqqani Network in Kabul, the intelligence agency said on Tuesday.
NDS in a statement said that the joint terror cell was responsible for targeted killings and the transportation of explosives to the terrorist cells in Kabul.
According to the statement, the group was involved in assassinations of several members of the security forces in different parts of the country.
“This terror cell was extorting money through kidnappings of the citizens,” the statement reads.
“Based on the analysis of the National Directorate of Security; Taliban, Haqqani Network and IS-K groups are launching terrorist attacks in a tactical coordination with each other,” the statement added.
This comes as the responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the country has been taken by anonymous sources of IS-K.
The private Mobile Network Operators “MNOs” (AWCC, Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan and Roshan) in a statement said that they face a number of issues that are not only impacting their future plans, but also the current operations.
“The highly competitive nature of the market has made even recouping our initial investment in rolling out 3G/4G technology a difficult challenge. This has been compounded by ATRA’s inability to provide us with the clean frequencies, free from all forms of interference, which we need to run our networks,” the statement said.
MNOs stated that contrary to recent statements made by ATRA Chairman Ansari, it is the arbitrary and onerous nature of ATRA’s policies and procedures on matters ranging from IMEI to SIM Distribution, and Customs Clearances to the Real-Time Data Management System, which have the biggest impact on their ability day-to-day to provide their customers with the latest products and services.
“Despite these challenges, we remain ready to work with ATRA and solve these issues together for the benefit of our customers and the country,” the statement added.
Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority has recently announced that telecommunication companies have been fined for selling unregistered SIM cards, and 70% of these SIM cards were blocked.
In an interview with the BBC Persian, Noor Saeed Shinwari, a spokesman for the ATRA office said that all telecommunications companies in the country were warned, that all the active and existing SIM cards must be registered by the end of 1400 (Solar Hijri Calendar).
According to Shinwari, the government took this step to ensure security, because many terrorist activities, blasts, and various other crimes are being carried out using unregistered mobile SIM cards.
However, telecommunications companies say SIM registration issues cannot be resolved fundamentally unless there is a digital central database registry system which they could link their systems to verify government issued IDs or Tazkiras, something which is not available. They also say that despite severe restrictions on SIMs by ATRA, which has raised the cost of a SIM, making it unaffordable for many people to access telecom services, crime rates have not gone down.
In addition to the above, out of 34 million SIM cards sold in the market, 22 million of them are reported active.
Four members of the Public Protection Force were killed and one more was injured in a roadside bomb blast in the Herat-Islam Qala highway, the provincial governor Waheed Qatali said on Tuesday.
“The members of the Public Protection Force were on patrol when the blast happened,” Qatali said, adding that “the bomb was placed by the Taliban.”
He added that the killed were the security personnel of Herat-Khaf railway which has recently been inaugurated by the Afghan government and Iran.
No one has yet claimed the responsibility for the attack including the Taliban.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 16 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,837 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported four deaths and 67 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,402 the number of total reported deaths is 2,418 and the total number of recoveries is 48,109.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Takhar, Baghlan, Maidan Wardajk, Badghis, Helamnd and Laghman.
At least four people were killed and two more were wounded in two separate incidents on Tuesday morning in Kabul city.
In the first incident, two people were wounded in a magnetic IED blast in Kabul city.
The blast happened at around 09:21am in the Macroryan area of PD16 of the capital.
A Land Cruiser type vehicle belonging to the government was hit by the IED blast.
Police told the media that one person was wounded and no further information about the identity of the individuals inside the vehicle were given.
In the meantime, media reported another incident in the Company area of PD5 in Kabul, where a Corolla type vehicle comes under armed attack by unknown gunmen.
The armed men have reportedly targeted employees for Maidan Wardak Rural Development Department.
At least 4 people were reported killed in the incident.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incidents so far.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has released its findings on the Behsud protest, in which 11 civilians were killed and 31 others wounded in shootings by security forces.
According to a report released by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), after the protest turned violent in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, the security forces “directly and indiscriminately opened fire on civilians, that were about 350 to 400 locals in front of the Behsud Police HQ, killing 11 people and wounding 31 others.
AIHRC said that since the protesters in were civilians and unarmed, the security forces stationed in Hese Awal Behsud district, dispersed the angry protesters without intimidating them in a hierarchical manner.
According to the report, it was possible to prevent the incident by devising and observing legal principles and standards.
The rights body has sent its team to investigate the Behsud incident two days after the incident.
The report included 13 interviews with locals, protesters, the wounded, a member of the National Assembly and local officials (including the provincial police chief and a doctor).
According to the findings of AIHRC, a military convoy consisting of police Unit 333 and Maidan Wardak Police under the command of Allahdad Fadai, Maidan Wardak Police Chief have gone to Behsud district to introduce new commanders.
The report stated: “People of the area, in meetings with the police chief of Maidan Wardak, raised questions and concerns about the prolongation of the presence of these forces in the area.”
This comes as the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement said the Police chief of Maidan Wardak province has been suspended over the protest incident in Behsud district.
According to the statement, the Ministry has made its comprehensive assessment in the light of the findings of the Behsud protest.
The statement said that based on the findings of the report, the people who took part in the protest were unarmed.
MoI stated that the case of Maidan Wardak Police chief has submitted to the Attorney General’s Office in order to investigate the case thoroughly and fairly in the light of the law.
The United States has reached a full year without a combat death in Afghanistan as conflict with the Taliban wanes.
The milestone was reached on Monday as the U.S. aims to remove international military forces from the country by May 1 and attempts to negotiate peace to end the two-decade war, Stars and Stripes reported.
The last recorded deaths of military members in Afghanistan during the conflict occurred on February 8, 2020, when Army Sergeants 1st Class Javier Gutierrez and Antonio Rodriguez were killed in action, Stars and Stripes reported. An Army Staff Sergeant and Private First Class were killed the month before.
Despite the milestone, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has threatened a “return to war” if the U.S. did not meet the deadline for their troops to pull out of Afghanistan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani are set to hold a virtual summit on Tuesday.
According to Indian media reports, both sides will sign the Shahtoot dam project worth $286 million.
“It [Shahtoot dam] will provide potable water to 2 million residents of Kabul, which is very important since the city has been facing water crisis for years — as the population density grew and resources became scarce,” the reports said.
This will be the second dam-building project that India will undertake in Afghanistan. Earlier, India helped in building the Salma dam in Herat province of the country.
Reports suggest that the two sides will also discuss counter-terrorism cooperation and concerns regarding cross-border terrorism.
Apart from the leaders, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Afghan counterpart Mohammed Haneef Atmar will attend the meeting.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed their gratitude and emphasised the importance of the strategic partnership between the two nations.