Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Acting Minister of Public Health Ahmad Jawad Osmani said a possible “second wave” of Coronavirus might grip the nation as the weather cools and added that the ministry was already preparing for it.
Addressing an event in Herat on Saturday, Osmani said that cold weather, air pollution and seasonal diseases could lead to a spike in new COVID-19 cases.
“According to statistical calculations that were carried out in some European countries and the United States, the outbreak will much higher in winter compared to summer. There is a strong possibility that we face a second wave,” Osmani said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that the Afghan COVID-19 tally reached 39,044 on Sunday with the addition of 125 new cases from 398 samples tested in the past 24 hours.
New positive cases were reported in the provinces of Farah (68), Daykundi (20), Nangarhar (9), Badghis (9), Herat (7), Samangan (4), Kunduz (3), Kabul (1), Helmand (1), Laghman (1), Kunar (1) and Zabul (1).
There were four fatalities and no recoveries in the past day.
Afghanistan has 5,027 active Coronavirus cases with 32,576 recovered and 1,441 deaths.
Envoys from the United Nations and Germany met Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Sunday and reiterated their support and commitment for the success of the Afghan peace talks.
This comes amid reports that the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Qatar are struggling to reach consensus on disputed points regarding the rules and regulations of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
Abdullah said he had a “constructive meeting” with United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) head Deborah Lyons.
“We took stock of the latest developments on peace talks in Doha, Qatar, and reiterated our commitment for the success of the talks, and end war in Afghanistan,” Abdullah tweeted.
Lyons called for an “immediate and unconditional reduction in violence” and said it was essential to build trust between the parties.
“The UN stands with Afghanistan in this crucial period,” she tweeted.
Abdullah also met Gregory Bledjian, Charge d’ Affaires of the Germany embassy in Afghanistan, and thanked Germany for their “constructive role” in the peace process.
“We took stock of the developments in [the] Afghan Peace Talks in Doha, and the regional and international support for peace,” Abdullah’s office said.
The German envoy urged for the government’s peace negotiating team to stay in doha for as long as was necessary.
“During these first talks, it is of utmost importance to achieve substantial progress on Afghanistan’s first steps towards peace,” the embassy tweeted.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement on Sunday, welcoming the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) support on the start of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The MFA called the UNSC statement a “reflection of the global community’s backing of a peaceful end to the conflict in Afghanistan” and said it was “highly encouraging to the Afghan government.”
“The Afghan government is fully committed to a sustainable peace, achieved through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process, a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire leading to an inclusive end state,” the ministry assured the members of the UNSC.
They also extended appreciation for the “instrumental role” played by the UNSC, over the years, to end conflict in Afghanistan and urged them for a continuation of this support.
“We join the Security Council, and our international partners, in calling on the Taliban Movement to demonstrate good will and create confidence towards the talks by reducing violence and adhering to a humanitarian ceasefire,” MFA said.
They also hoped for the continuation of the Security Council’s assistance in ensuring the implementation and monitoring of the subsequent peace deal, as well as, post-conflict reconstruction and development in Afghanistan.
On Saturday, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also said the UNSC statement underscored the international commitment to Afghanistan’s “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity.”
A group of police officers including their commander have been arrested for the gang rape of a minor boy in Dand district of Kandahar, officials confirmed.
Initial eyewitness reports had said the minor, identified as Ahmadullah, used to live close to a checkpoint manned by a police commander named Mullah Roozi in Kariz village of Dand district.
Roozi had allegedly taken the child to the checkpoint and along with other officers, gang-raped, tortured and killed him.
Kandahar Police had initially denied the report of police involvement but said investigations were ongoing and they had detained Roozi.
On Saturday night, they issued a video statement that the boy’s father filed an official report and Kandahar Police Commander Tadin Khan had issued instructions for the arrest of five police officers, including Roozi.
Kandahar Police spokesperson Jamal Naser Barakzai said the arrested officers will be sent for a trial to the Office of the Attorney General.
At least 20 people were injured, including the bride, when an explosion ripped through a wedding procession in the Jani Khel district of Paktika province on Saturday evening, the police said.
Shah Mahmood Arian, spokesperson for the Paktika Police said on Sunday, the explosion took place in the Hasti area of the district.
At least 20 people were injured, including women and children, as an explosion struck a Kochi wedding convoy.
Arian said at least five of the wounded are said to be in critical condition.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the blast.
The Afghan security forces killed at least 27 Taliban militants, including Pakistani nationals, in Ghazni province, provincial officials said on Saturday.
A group of armed Taliban militants were planning to attack security bases in the Askar Kot area of Qarabagh district.
“Their assaults faced strict resistance by the Afghan security forces,” the Ghazni Press Office said in a statement. The ground forces also received air support.
Two Taliban commanders identified as “Akef and Abu Mansour” were among the 27 Taliban insurgents killed in the attack.
On Friday, a Pakistani national was also among the 24 Taliban fighters killed in the Aliabad and Dasht-e-Archi districts of Kunduz.
The Afghan Air Force conducted multiple strikes on Taliban positions, killing over 30 militants on Saturday, said the Ministry of Defence.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that the “enemy” had bombed civilian homes.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that Taliban fighters had attacked Afghan security forces in the Nikapaye Sayed Ramazan area of Khan Abad district of Kunduz on Saturday.
The attack was intercepted “in accordance with active defence procedures,” the ministry said, adding that initial reports indicate no harm was inflicted upon civilians or security personnel.
According to the MoD, more than 30 Taliban fighters, including two commanders named Qari Abdulrazeq and Mawlawi Abbas were killed. Eight others, including two commander named Faizani and Qari Ebrahim, were wounded during the strike.
“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties,” they said and are investigating these “allegations.”
The Taliban has said that the attack killed nearly 23 people, including women and children, while 17 were wounded.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) statement on Afghanistan’s peace negotiations underscores international commitment to Afghanistan’s “sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity.”
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Khalilzad said the UNSC statement supports the path the parties are currently on, which is to “find a political settlement that accommodates all Afghans, one the region and international community can endorse in spirit and in action.”
“This is a unique moment for Afghanistan… This unique opportunity must be seized,” he said.
“Not only are Afghan parties negotiating directly, but as indicated by the UNSC statement, there is broad international support for a negotiated political settlement and peace in Afghanistan,” he added.