Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At least 10 Taliban insurgents and seven policemen were killed in clashes in northern province of Kunduz during Wednesday night, local officials said Thursday.
“Insurgents waged an attack with assault rifles, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades on an Afghan National Police checkpoint in Posta-i-Godam in the western edge of Khan Abad district headquarters,” the spokesman of Kunduz Police, Anamuddin Rahmani told Reporterly.
According to Rahmani, the police personnel deployed at the check post responded and reinforcement arrived at the area early on Thursday, and carried out a pursuit operation for the attackers who fled the scene.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, in contact with media has confirmed the fighting in Kunduz, saying insurgents also clashed with additional forces as they approach the area.
The province has for long been the scene of heavy clashes between Taliban and government security forces.
Afghan ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jalal Kareem has met with the Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Shaikh.
During the meeting, they stressed deep-rooted relations between the two countries and reviewed bilateral cooperation fields and educational programs being offered in the Kingdom and Afghanistan.
The two sides also discussed accepting scholarship students in Saudi universities and benefiting from universities in providing programs and centers for teaching Arabic language in Afghanistan.
At least five employees of an Afghan private electricity company were killed and another wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Shahr-e-Safa district in Zabul province, local officials said.
The spokesman of Zabul governor, Gul Islam Seyal told Reporterly, “A vehicle of a private electricity company hit by a road-side bomb in Zeyarat Akhund area of Shahr-e Safa district at around 12:00p.m. on Thursday.”
According to Seyal, the bomb was planted on the route by the Taliban insurgents.
In the meantime, the officials of Brishna company in Kandahar has confirmed the incident, adding that the ambulances have arrived at the area.
The state minister for peace affairs, Abdul Salam Rahimi says the government is prepared (for negotiations) than at any time in the past, but the Taliban have not presented anything on the table in Doha so far.
“We don’t know if the Taliban has shared anything with the US delegation in Qatar regarding peace,” Rahimi said in a press conference in Kabul on Thursday.
He emphasized that any peace efforts that sidelines Afghan government will have no result.
“The government of Afghanistan is more ready than any other time for peace talks. We must assume that the regional situation is different now compared to recent weeks,” he said.
The state minister for peace stated that Afghan government has a strategy for peace and it represents the entire nation.
He noted that talks have taken place with the Pakistani side to support the peace in its real meaning, stressing that without Pakistan’s real support; it is hard to have long-lasting peace and an end to violence.
“No one knows the meaning of ‘reduction of violence,’ and no one will stick to anything if a reduction of violence is announced,” Rahimi added.
The Lower House of Parliament has approved a 65 million Euro loan from Italy for the Herat-Khwaf railway project which would be a long-term loan.
An agreement on this regard was signed between parliament’s commission of financial affairs on Wednesday.
Azim Mohseni, head of the commission, called the long-term loan as “urgent” to include the national budget.
The government of Italy is to finance the second phase of the Herat-Khwaf railway project from Rabat Beryan to Herat airport, according to the agreement.
The loan is said to be paid in three installments with 40 million Euros at the first and second installments, while the remaining 25 million Euros would be paid at the third installment.
The Afghan Taliban have expressed readiness for reduction in violence, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Thursday, saying it was a good progress in the group’s talks with the United States.
In a video message posted by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that reduction in violence is a step toward a peace agreement.
He hoped that ongoing efforts will lead to peace so that it would benefit both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This comes as senior members of the Afghan Taliban have reportedly agreed to a 10-day ceasefire with the United States and ‘bringing a major decrease in attacks or violence’ against the Afghan government and their armed forces in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has spoken on phone with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about recent developments related to the Ukraine International Airlines tragedy in Iran.
The Presidential Palace in a statement said that the two leaders shared condolences for the terrible losses of Canadian, Afghan and other citizens in the tragedy.
According to the statement, they noted the grief and shock felt by the loved ones of the victims and how this is shared by all citizens in their countries.
Prime Minister Trudeau and President Ghani underlined the imperative of a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation into this tragedy and the priority of supporting the families of the victims and respecting their wishes.
“They emphasized their commitment to close collaboration among the countries impacted, including through the International Coordination and Response Group for families of victims of PS752, which will be convened by Canada tomorrow in London, United Kingdom,” the statement reads.
It added that the two leaders discussed the situation in the region and agreed on the importance of de-escalation and dialogue in order to reduce tensions and promote stability and security.
General Austin Scott Miller, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and US Forces in Afghanistan in his trip to Herat has emphasized planning effective operations in suppressing the Taliban group in the province.
The office of Herat governor in a press release said that Gen. Miller in his trip to Herat has praised the increased capacity of Afghan National and Defense Security Forces.
According to the press release, Gen. Miller was accompanied by the deputy of National Directorate Security (NDS) in his trip and met with the governor of Herat, Abdul Qayoum Rahimi.
“Gen. Miller in his meeting with the governor of Herat has praised the betterment of security situation in the province and the recent achievements of security forces against the terrorists,” the press release said.
This is third trip of NATO and US forces commander to Herat province this year.
Senior members of the Afghan Taliban have reportedly agreed to a 10-day ceasefire with the United States and ‘bringing a major decrease in attacks or violence’ against the Afghan government and their armed forces in Afghanistan, Taliban sources said.
“There had been discussions for the past few weeks and after thorough deliberations, our decision-making body Rehbari Shura (leadership council) has agreed to a 10-day ceasefire with the US in Afghanistan. For the Afghan government and its armed forces, our leadership has decided to reduce attacks or whatever you call it,” a top Taliban leader and part of their 26-member leadership council told ‘The News’ from somewhere in Ghazni province.
Pleading anonymity, as he is not authorized to interact with the media, the Taliban leader said that all sides would start acting on the ceasefire from the day when Taliban and US sign a peace accord in Doha.
“According to the Taliban, following the approval given by the Rehbari Shura, Taliban supreme leader Maulvi Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada also agreed to the ceasefire plan,” the news agency reported.
The Taliban leader claimed that the peace talks with the US had entered a final stage and they could sign the peace accord anytime shortly. “We may not announce the ceasefire publicly but would make sure our military commanders to implement it wholeheartedly in the areas under their control. All sides had promised to sincerely honour their commitment and follow the ceasefire in their respective areas” said the Taliban leader.
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been pushing the Taliban to agree to a brief ceasefire before signing of the peace agreement.
Khalilzad paused the negotiations in Qatar last month after the Taliban attacked the Bagram airfield north of Kabul that killed at least two people and injured nearly 70 others.
Chairman of Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security Saimumin Yatimov has met with his Afghan colleague Zia Saraj and other representatives of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.
The sides have discussed the situation in the region, noting that destabilization presents a danger for the region, Khovar news agency informed.
“The sides have expressed their concern regarding the fact that Afghanistan has turned into a battlefield due to the interference of certain international subversive forces. This factor creates risks for neighboring states,” the message informs. “In light of the current situation, they have highlighted the direct threat of international terrorist groups, namely Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Islamic Renaissance Party, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, the Turkistan Islamic Movement and others.”
The Tajik side thanked the Afghan security service for detecting and fighting terrorist groups tasked with committing attacks on the territory of Tajikistan.
The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Idrees Zaman has met with the German Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Mr. Niels Annen, where they discussed key issues, including the Afghan peace and presidential election.
The Ministry of Foreign (MoF) in a statement said, both sides discussed the recent developments in the region, particularly the issue of Ukrainian airplane PS752 crash in Tehran.
Mr. Annen briefed Minister Zaman about the Berlin Climate and Security Conference, which will be attended by ministers of foreign affairs of five Central Asian Countries, held on 28th January 2020 in Berlin, Germany, the statement added.
The two sides also exchanged views on a range of issues including the presidential election, peace efforts and upcoming intra-Afghan peace dialogue which will probably be held in Berlin.
The representatives at the Lower House of Parliament have warned that no budget would be allocated for government entities until it receives a parliament approval.
The Afghan lawmakers said on Wednesday that the government should be responsible for the long time caretaker ministers.
The Parliament Members stated that commerce acting minister was unauthorized and the body was run by his deputy and other senior officials.
The legislators also said if next year’s budget was not approved in parliament, they would not allow government entities to use money, emphasizing on the use of operative money.
They will make decision on finalizing of next year’s budget on Monday.
Kabul police and health workers have rounded up at least 400 drug addicts in Kabul for medical treatment.
The campaign launched by Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in joint venture with Kabul police in the fight against heroin and opium.
The drug abusers were collected from Pul-e-Sokhta area at 6th PD of Kabul, MoPH said in a statement.
According to the statement, the addicted people were shifted to addiction treatment center for medical treatment.
In the meantime, MoPH has rounded up 200 drug abusers from Sarai Shamali area of 17th PD three days ago and shifted them to addicted treatment clinics for treatment.