Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said the Main-Line-I (ML-I) railway track will be extended by 154 km, from Peshawar to Jalalabad in Afghanistan.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of a freight train at the newly restored dry port, he said that completion of the ML-I project was the main objective.
He said the project was being completed in collaboration with China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative to improve railway connectivity between Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi.
Rashid declared the track between Peshawar and Jalalabad would also be included in CPEC.
He also warned that no one would be allowed to create hurdles in the implementation of the CPEC projects.
The Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says the Presidential Palace (ARG) cannot make unilateral decisions and without the National Unity Government, the incumbent government does not have legitimacy, even for a minute.
Speaking at a gathering of his campaign team members and supporters in Kabul on Sunday, CE Abdullah declared that the National Unity Government will remain until the announcement of final results of the Presidential election.
“We cannot further tolerate violation of National Unity Government deal,” he said.
Regarding the peace process, Abdullah stated that his team is inclusive and can be a main stakeholder in the (peace) negotiations.
“We will not apply conditions for peace because any opportunity for peace should be used and should be made a success,” he asserted.
The Chief Executive emphasized that peace is the will of all Afghans and it is not the monopoly of the Presidential Palace, adding that all Afghans have the right to be included in the negotiations.
Afghan forces used ground attacks and air strikes in multiple operations against the Taliban during the last 24 hours, killing 51 fighters in an escalation that signaled renewed deadlock in peace talks.
Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that government forces had conducted 13 ground offensives and 12 air strikes in nine provinces, adding that 51 “terrorists” had been killed, 13 wounded and six arrested.
Local officials in the northern province of Balkh said at least three women and four children were killed in the air strikes, prompting protests in front of the provincial governor’s office.
The government pledged to send a fact-finding mission to investigate the reports of civilian deaths.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said it had staged two more attacks targeting security forces over the weekend, following sporadic assaults last week.
The Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC) has reported that hundreds of government posts remain vacant in southeastern Paktia province.
Aminullah Jawad, head of the IACSC, called vacancies on paper a serious issue, adding a biometric process was underway for all employees across the province in order to deal with it.
Jawad said his department had identified all vacant government posts which totaled to 421 in the province and assured of filling those positions within six months of the current fiscal year through transparent and proper methods.
This comes as joblessness in Afghanistan has caused thousands of youth to leave the country in hope of better life and job opportunities.
President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday met with U.S. Chargé D’Affaires Ross Wilson and the US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller.
President’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqi in a statement said that Gen. Miller has briefed President Ghani about his recent visit to Qatar.
“Discussions between Taliban and U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad are ongoing in Qatar, in case of any developments, Khalilzad will visit Kabul to brief the Afghan government,” Sediqi tweeted quoting Gen. Miller.
Police in North Macedonia say railway workers found four Afghan migrants locked in a freight train container at the border crossing with Serbia.
The railway workers reported hearing “panicked” knocking from a freight train container at the Tabanovce border crossing.
The workers removed the container’s seals and found four Afghan men, aged 19 to 33.
They are believed to have been loaded in Greece, hoping to reach richer European countries. The train´s final destination was Hungary.
The migrants have been transferred to a detention center and are expected to be deported back to Greece.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) has announced that five key members of the Taliban group including the deputy intelligence of the group for Jalriz district have been arrested in Maidan Wardak province.
NDS in a press release on Sunday said that the NDS Special Unit forces have conducted an operation on Taliban’s hideouts in Ahmad Khail and Muhammad Noor Khail villages of Jalriz district.
According to the press release, the Taliban’s in charge of collecting charities are also among the detainees.
Afghan security forces also seized a number of military equipment during the operation, the press release added.
Afghan local officials have confirmed that the director of Hajj and Religious Affairs department for Pashton Zarghon district of Herat province has been assassinated.
Confirming the incident, the governor of Herat, Abdul Qayoum Rahimi said Mawlawi Abdul Rahim Ahmadi was assassinated when he was on his way to office.
Rahimi also instructed the security officials of Pashton Zarghon district to identify and arrest the perpetrators.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
Afghan army officials in the northern zone have confirmed that the Taliban insurgents have murdered a young girl after kidnapping her in Faryab province.
The spokesman of 209 Shahin Corps, Hanif Rezai told Reporterly, “The Taliban killed a young girl and dumped her body in a garden after keeping it in an undisclosed location for two days in Kohistanat district.”
According to Rezai, the corpse of the girl was found by the inhabitants of the area from a garden.
He further added that the reason for the killing has not yet been clear, but it has been proven that the perpetrators were Taliban militants.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib left for Balkh province to meet local officials and assess the overall situation of the country’s northern provinces, NSA’s press office said in a statement.
According to the statement, the NSA Moheb will meet with governors, military councils, scholars, women, civil society activists and youths in the northern provinces.
This comes as the Taliban group has recently had widespread operations in the northern provinces.
At least 18 suspects were identified and seven of them were arrested over their alleged involvement in the sexual abuse of children and youths in Logar province, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said.
The spokesman of AGO, Jamshid Rasouli said, the cases of two of the suspects have been sent to the court for further proceedings and the rest will be sent in the nearest time.
This comes a day after reports surfaced in the media that Mohammad Mussa Mahmoudi, the head of Logar’s civil society, who last year released a report of sexual abuse of over 390 children and youth in Logar province, has fled the country over security threats.
The UK’s Guardian published an article that brought international attention to the civil society report, citing Mahmoudi, saying that “over 500” male children and youth had allegedly been abused in Logar.
A helicopter registered in Moldova was attacked in the settlement Kajaki, province Helmand on Saturday, while carrying out a humanitarian mission, transporting food products.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the helicopter was attacked by a grenade thrower RPG while on land.
Three members of the crew were onboard the helicopter MI-8, of whom the commander and the mechanical engineer, born in Ukraine, were slightly wounded, while copilot from Moldova suffered no injure.
All crew members were taken over by another helicopter. They were carried to hospital for medical care; afterwards, they were sent home, with their health condition being out of any danger.
Starting from 27 January, the Civil Aviation Authority will start an evaluation at the companies operating flights outside Moldova, for the fitting and implementation of aviation security procedures.
At least 20 people were wounded after unknown gunmen threw grenades at a wedding party on Saturday night in Alishir district of Khost province, officials confirmed.
The spokesman of Khost Police, Adel Haidar told Reporterly, “At least 20 people including a child were wounded after a number of unidentified armed men threw grenades at a wedding party last night at around 21:00pm.”
Haidar noted that the conditions of the wounded are stable expect the child who is in a critical condition.
He added that no group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far, and investigations are underway.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has assigned teams at the Hamid Karzai International Airport to check passengers for coronavirus who reach Kabul with international flights.
An outbreak of “coronavirus” began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. So far it has infected more than 1,300 globally, according to news agencies.
Health Minister, Firozuddin Firzo has said that they had meetings with officials from World Health Organization to ask for help regarding prevention of the virus and have got positive response from the UN-funded organization.
But physicians warn that the virus transfer to Afghanistan would be easy since the two countries have big trade deals. The physicians said the government needed to take serious prevention steps.