Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Wearing face masks has been made compulsory in government offices and hospitals as the number of cases may increase in the country with the onset of winter, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Wednesday.
MoPH spokesperson Akmal Samsor said that the cabinet has approved their proposal and clients, visitors and employees alike, will have to abide by it.
He stressed that they were preparing for the second wave of infections and continuing to raise awareness about COVID-19 across the country.
Samsor also said that Afghanistan may not have access to a vaccine until 2021.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that they had inspected 24 laboratories in Kabul after receiving a complaint from the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) that some have been issuing fake COVID-19 test results.
MoPH spokesperson Akmal Samsor said on Wednesday, that three laboratories have been given a warning while another has been closed.
The ACAA had sent a letter to the MoPH which named several laboratories and accused them of providing fake Coronavirus negative reports to travellers.
Several airlines had lodged complaints with the ACAA that passengers with reports from these labs have tested positive abroad.
Baghlan officials said that six security forces were killed and two were wounded in a Taliban attack on security checkpoints in the Gozargah-e-Noor district of the province.
Ahmad Javid Besharat, spokesperson for Baghlan Police Command, said that that Taliban launched an attack on at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday in the district centre.
In an official statement released on Wednesday, Besharat said that 25 Taliban fighters were also killed and wounded during the clashes.
He added that reinforcements have been sent to the district and the clashes have continued.
Other media sources reported that as many as 16 Afghan security personnel were killed and over 10 injured in the attack.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the attack.
With the addition of 66 new Coronavirus cases within the past day, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said Afghanistan has confirmed 39,994 cases so far.
The government laboratories were able to test 318 samples in the last 24 hours.
The MoPH reported new cases in the provinces of Herat (16), Kandahar (10), Kunduz (10), Parwan (8), Kabul (6), Nangarhar (3), Bamiyan (3), Logar (3), Panjshir (3), Nimruz (2), Zabul (1) and Uruzgan (1).
Over the past day, there was one death due to COVID-19 while 46 people recovered from the disease.
Afghanistan has confirmed 5,159 active cases, with 1,481 deaths and 33,354 recoveries.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said on Tuesday that the clashes near the Helmand provincial centre has reportedly displaced about 35,000 people according to initial estimates from local authorities.
Authorities also said that nearly 200 people were killed or injured, and the numbers could change as the Afghan security forces launched a counteroffensive.
The Taliban assault on Helman is the first major offensive by the group since the start of the peace negotiations in Doha, and one of the biggest since the they signed the deal with the U.S. in February.
Several health facilities are reportedly closed, while others are only addressing trauma cases.
Access to Lashkar Gah is limited, with the main road connecting it to Kandahar city inaccessible.
Electricity has also reportedly been cut in parts of both provinces. Telephone networks are also affected impacting humanitarian assessment teams’ communications.
Since Sunday, provincial officials have reported that parts of the city have fallen to the Taliban along with the military bases.
The Helmand governor’s office said on Tuesday that Afghan forces were able to take back five checkpoints from Taliban control.
Badakhshan officials said three policemen were killed and two were wounded during a Taliban attack on a security checkpoint on Wednesday.
Badakhshan Police spokesperson Sanaullah Rouhani said that the Taliban attacked Bagh-e Mubarak, a village on the road connecting Fayzabad to Baharak district.
The attack started at midnight and continued for three hours, he added.
The number of Taliban casualties is not known yet.
President Ashraf Ghani met Shamsia Alizada, the top scorer in the national university entrance exams (Kankor), along with five other toppers on Tuesday.
Ghani praised their efforts, congratulated them on behalf of the government and awarded the six candidates 100,000 AFN each.
“You are the future of Afghanistan and I hope you will make enough progress to become the President of Afghanistan,” he said.
He expressed the desire that Afghanistan’s “wealth and resources” be managed by such students in the future.
Ghani called Alizada a “role model for Afghan girls” and said he saw the “fruits of the republic” in the top Kankor scorers.
Police officials in Herat said they rescued a kidnapped money exchanger on Wednesday, and arrested eight people in connection with the incident.
Haji Ismail Mohammadi was abducted from his near his home in Herat city on Monday night.
Abdul Ahad Valizadeh, spokesperson for the Herat Police Command, told Reporterly that Mohammadi was kept captive in a house in the Shirzai valley area of the city.
Valizadeh assures that the police were committed to fighting against kidnappers.
The Herat Money Exchange Union had gone on a strike on Tuesday to protest the rising insecurity and abductions.
Helmand officials confirmed that two army helicopters that had been sent to the area collided in mid-air.
Omar Zwak, spokesperson for the governor of Helmand, told Reporterly on Wednesday, that the helicopters were sent to transport wounded security personnel.
Zwak added that the two helicopters first collided in mid-air and then made an emergency landing.
According to him, the details of the casualties of this incident are not yet known.
A number of unofficial sources, however, have said that 8 to 15 people were killed as a result of the helicopter crash.