Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Army officials in Faryab province said that seven Taliban fighters were killed and five were wounded in a counterattack by security forces on Thursday.
Hanif Rezaee, spokesperson for the 209th Shaheen Corps, said that around 6:30 am on Thursday, Taliban insurgents attacked security checkpoints in the village of Qozi Bay Qala in the Dawlat Abad district.
He did not comment on the casualties among the security forces.
The Taliban is yet to comment on the attack.
On Tuesday afternoon, Afghan security forces had also clashed with the Taliban in the same location.
At least three people were killed and 15 injured in mine blasts in Herat and Laghman provinces on Wednesday.
A sticky mine attacked to a vehicle blew up in Herat city at around 7:20 pm said Herat Police spokesperson Abdul Ahad Walizada.
As a result, at least two people were killed and six were wounded in the blast. The incident took place between PD9 and PD12.
No further information was given about the victims and no group has claimed responsibility yet.
At least one civilian was killed and nine others wounded in a blast in Mehtar Lam, the capital of Laghman.
Provincial officials said that an explosive-laden motorbike had blasted off in the Sultan Baba area.
This comes as the Ministry of Interior said that Afghan National Police were able to locate an explosives-rigged motorcycle in Gardiz city of Paktia. The security forces had prior information that such a vehicle might enter the city and had been on the lookout.
NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Stefano Pontecorvo met several Afghan officials in the past day to discuss the important role of the Afghan government in fostering the peace efforts.
Pontecorvo met Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation on Wednesday.
The two sides discussed the government formation and progress towards intra-Afghan negotiations.
“It’s vital now that the Afghan government forms a united front and takes steps for negotiations to begin,” Pontecorvo tweeted.
Later, Pontecorvo tweeted about meeting National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib.
They discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and the ongoing peace efforts.
“We talked about the opportunity that the upcoming ceasefire represents for peace and agreed that it is important for intra-Afghan negotiations to start soonest,” the NATO envoy said.
Mohib assured him that the government of Afghanistan will be “well positioned as we enter direct talks” with the Taliban.
Fazel Fazly, Director General of the Administrative Office of the President, also met Pontecorvo.
They discussed the importance of finalising government formation and entering into intra-Afghan negotiations, along with reduction in violence.
The Kandahar governor’s office said Taliban ran a tractor over the road connecting Arghistan district to the provincial capital, and destroyed the asphalt road.
A statement from the governor’s office on Wednesday said Taliban had continued its “terrorist” activities by destroying public facilities.
They accused the group of harming people since the road was used for transporting patients and produce to central Kandahar.
The Taliban have not yet commented.
Kandahar officials said Taliban had previously warned residents of Arghistan to not use the road.
In mid-July, the group had bombed three checkpoints along the route, following which Kandahar Police Commander Tadin Khan had issued a statement denouncing the Taliban’s activities of destroying public facilities.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar met with the European Union’s (EU) Head of Delegation to Afghanistan Pierre Mayaudon on Wednesday.
At the outset, both sides highlighted the important outcomes of the Fourth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and the comprehensive commitment between the Afghan government and the international community on the importance of good governance and the fight against corruption.
Ambassador Mayaudon conveyed his appreciation for the declaration of a ceasefire between the government and the Taliban for Eid al-Adha.
He also called for an extension to the ceasefire and the immediate start of talks between the two parties.
Atmar and the ambassador also deliberated on the expansion of trade and transit, investment and economic cooperation.
In closing, Mayaudon reassured Atmar that the EU remains committed to Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.
Ahmad Jawad Osmani, acting Minister of Public Health, urged the Afghan people to stay indoors on Eid al-Adha and refrain from travelling, telling them to not repeat the mistakes made on Eid al-Fitr.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Osmani said Afghanistan was still going through an emergency situation.
“On Eid al-Fitr, we faced a major crisis due to people’s disregard for Coronavirus [restrictions], and many died,” he said, adding, “We call on the people not to repeat the mistake of the past Eid and to follow health guidelines.”
Osmani recommended wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, washing hands and refraining from hugging as some of the restrictions.
He also urged people to avoid visiting elderly relatives, since they have a higher chance of getting infected.
In another part of his speech, the health minister also warned about the outbreak of the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) which spreads among those who are exposed to infected animals and the blood and tissues of freshly slaughtered animals.
He told people to be careful while slaughtering animals on Eid.
Aminuddin Mozaffari, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Hajj and Endowments, told people to hold Eid prayers in the open air, an in accordance with health restrictions.
He recommended than those who were not feeling well or were suspected of having COVID-19, should refrain from attending the prayers.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Islamabad Atif Mashal said he had resigned and posted his letter to President Ashraf Ghani on social media on Wednesday.
Mashal wrote that this was the second time he had sent a resignation letter to Kabul, the first being in mid-January.
The reasons cited by Mashal at both times remained the same. He wished to continue his higher education in the U.K.
“Not being able to take advantage of education opportunities… made it difficult for me to continue working. I had to submit my resignation letter to the President,” he wrote on Twitter.
He said he was “grateful” for getting the opportunity to serve Afghanistan and “proud” that he had done his job well.
“The end of my current mission is not the end of serving my country, but in the future I will continue to work for my country if my homeland allows.”
President Ashraf Ghani accepted his resignation.
Mashal had been appointed Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan in November 2018.
Provincial officers said three policemen have been killed in a roadside bomb blast in Tarinkot city of Uruzgan.
Zargi Ebadi, spokesperson for the governor of Uruzgan, said that the explosion took place at 11:00 am on Wednesday.
He said the mine was planted by the Taliban to target a police vehicle.
Another policeman was injured in the blast.
The Taliban have not commented on the incident.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that 17 Taliban were killed and 11 injured when the Air force supported the Afghan National defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) during clashes with the group in Faryab province on Tuesday.
In a statement on Wednesday, the MoD said that the Taliban had “prepared to attack” ANDSF checkpoints in the afternoon in the Qozi bay Qala village of Dawlat Abad district and Chaghtag village of Almar district in Faryab.
“The ANDSF intercepted these attack with support from the Air Force,” the Ministry tweeted, and said 17 Taliban fighters were killed and 11 others, including a military commander were injured.
Three motorbikes and a Taliban camp were also destroyed.
The group has not commented on the clashes yet.
Afghanistan has seen a definite rise in the number of positive cases of Coronavirus as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported over 100 new cases for the third day in a row.
The MoPH found 105 lab-tested cases of COVID-19 from a little over 400 samples tested in the past 24 hours.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (36), Ghor (32), Kabul (17), Bamyan (12), Daykundi (6) and Nangarhar (2).
They added that one person had succumbed to the virus while 31 had recovered.
The country’s tally is currently 36,473 confirmed cases of which 9,813 are active, 25,389 patients have recovered and 1,271 have died.
Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin said they were not considering the possible return of Russian border guards to the Tajik-Afghan border despite the tense situation along it.
During a meeting called by the Security Council of Tajikistan on July 21, they had discussed issues related to aggravation of situation at the Tajik-Afghan border in the southern part of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).
The government had decided to take measures to ensure national security in the area bordering Afghanistan and also ordered to strengthen the border – without calling into action Russia.
Addressing reporters in Dushanbe on Monday, Foreign Minister Muhriddin said, “The situation on the border with Afghanistan remains tense but we are able to protect our borders against any terrorist groups.”
He said that Tajikistan has not considered the possibility of the return of Russian border guards, and it has not been on the agenda.
The Russian military used to patrol along the sensitive Tajik-Afghan border but pulled out in 2005 and the task was handed over to Tajikistan.
Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrey Rudenko had said recently that they could consider the issue of return of their border guards if Tajikistan made a request.
In a video released on Sunday by the Voice of Jihad, Taliban celebrated its “newly graduated martyrs and Mujahideen from [the] Abu Ubaidah Ibn Jarrah Training Center” which is known to be in the Badakhshan province, reports FDD’s Long War Journal.
Journalist Bill Roggio translated parts of the video, which was in Pashto, and produced by Manba Al-Jihad Media, the media outlet for the Haqqani Network.
“The military training of the believing Mujahideen youth is a guarantee of the country’s independence and Islamic sovereignty and a harbinger of the defeat of any enemy,” the Taliban note read.
The U.S.-Taliban deal is mentioned in the first half of the video, along with clips of attacks on the U.S. and Afghan forces.
The second half shows Taliban members undergoing various stages of training at the Abu Ubaidah Ibn Jarrah Training Center.
The members are seen firing small arms and light weapons, dismounting from vehicles to conduct an attack, using rocket propelled grenades, recoilless rifles and machine guns.
The first shipment of exports from the Shahid Rajaee Port in southern Iran made its way to Herat through the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI) corridor on Tuesday.
Iran officially launched the corridor on Sunday as a short and alternative route for sending goods from the southern ports of the country to Central Asia.
The Herat governor’s office said that the corridor was opened in Herat on Tuesday, with the first shipment of six containers.
Four of the containers were sent to Tajikistan and two are going towards Kyrgyzstan.
The new route opens up the region to trade, allowing freight operators to benefit from significant cost and time savings while transporting goods.
Earlier, Saeed Azimian, deputy director of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment, criticized the government for failing to address the problems with the Lapis Lazuli corridor and Chabahar route.
The traders complained about the lack of infrastructure and reported various problems along the way.