Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
A United Nations special report, which examines the impact on civilians of United States’ airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities on 5 May 2019 in Afghanistan, determines that the operation caused a large number of civilian casualties. The report also examines the legal framework applicable to this incident.
In June 2019, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), together with representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, conducted a site visit to areas impacted by the strikes in Farah province’s Bakwa district, as part of its extensive fact-finding into the 5 May incident.
The UN verified 39 civilian casualties, among them 14 children and one woman, from multiple airstrikes on more than 60 sites that the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) identified as drug-production facilities in Bakwa district and in parts of the neighbouring Delaram district of Nimroz province.
Moreover, the UN is working to verify credible reports of at least 37 additional civilian casualties, the majority of whom were women and children.
Although airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities had taken place before, this was the first time that UNAMA had received reports of a large number of civilian casualties resulting from such an operation.
Based on the UN statement, “USFOR-A assessed there were no civilian casualties resulting from the airstrikes. The United Nations understands that according to longstanding United States policy, economic objects that contribute to the war effort of a party to a conflict are considered legitimate military objectives.”
However, in the meantime, the UN statement stated, “According to international humanitarian law, including international customary law, facilities that contribute economically or financially to the war effort of a party to a conflict are considered civilian objectives.”
According to the UN statement, the report, jointly produced by UNAMA and the UN Human Rights Office, concludes that drug facilities and associated workers may not be lawfully made the target of attack and should be protected.
The United Nations maintains that considering these objects and individuals legitimate targets dangerously erodes the fundamental principle of distinction, placing the broader civilian population and infrastructure at risk.
The report sets out a number of recommendations, including that the appropriate – and legal – response to illicit drug activity is through law enforcement, not military operations that endanger civilians.
The Chief Executive Abdullah said that the elimination of Asim Umar and conducting successful operations demonstrate the capabilities of Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) in fighting regional and global terrorists.
By targeting the leaders of terrorist groups specially Al-Qaeda leader in South Asia and key IS-K leaders, ANDSF have inflicted heavy impacts on these groups, Dr. Abdullah said in reaction to killing of Asim Umer, chief of Al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch.
Abdullah Abdullah noted that security forces have proven to be capable of defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
While appreciating the security forces, he stated that as a result of the sacrifices and hardships of the ANDSF, the Afghan people will witness lasting peace and stability.
This comes as National Directorate of Security yesterday announced that Asim Umer, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was killed during a raid on September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.
Presidential palace also said today (Wednesday) that the Afghan government praise ANDSF for elimination of Asim Umer, a Pakistani citizen and chief of Al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch in Musa Qala district.
At least 6 civilians have been killed and wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Faryab province, security officials confirmed.
The press office of Faryab police said, “The explosion happened at around 12:00 PM Wednesday as a vehicle travelling from City of Maimana to Almar district hit a roadside bomb.
Faryab police noted that the Taliban had embedded the mine. 3 civilians were killed and 3 others were wounded as a result of the blast, Faryab police said.
According to Faryab police, women and children are among those killed and injured in the incident.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said that virginity test is against women’s human dignity and international human rights standards, and is a violence against humanity and an example of torture of women.
AIHRC’s reaction to unconditional ban on virginity tests come two days after an announcement of a new amendment to article 640, item 2 of panel code regarding “Virginity Confirmation” by Afghan Law Committee.
“The Commission, like before calls for the unconditional ban of virginity tests and will continue to advocate and ask for modification of law in coordination with civil organization and human rights defenders,”AIHRC statement read.
“In the absence of any evidence to prove the crime, a virginity examination may only be authorized by the competent court,” according to the statement by the Office of Second Vice President.
Having a virginity in traditional Afghan society is vital for girls. The virginity for Afghan girls is the dignity of the girl and her family.
Torture, cutting off of nose or ear, beating, divorce or even death are the consequences awaiting for a woman after a failed virginity test.
USFOR-A has expressed deep concern over UNAMA’s methods and findings, saying sources with limited information, conflicted motives and violent agendas are not credible.
“USFOR -A follows the highest standards of accuracy and accountability to avoid harm to non-combatants and collateral damage”, said USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett.
The USFOR-A reaction comes as the UN has determined that a US operation caused a large number of civilian casualties.
“UN verified 39 civilian casualties, among them 14 children and one woman, from multiple airstrikes on more than 60 sites that the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) identified as drug-production facilities in Bakwa district and in parts of the neighboring Delaram district of Nimroz province”, UN said in a statement.
Meanwhile, USFOR-A stated that it investigates credible allegations of non-combatant casualties in a complex environment where others intentionally kill innocents, fight from behind civilians and use lies for propaganda.
“Unlike UNAMA, USFOR-A does not rely on websites like Voice of Jihad”, Col Sonny Leggett said.
USFOR-A further added that UNAMA reports rely primarily on human sources that may have only limited relevant information.
Germany has deported another group of failed Afghan asylum seekers to their home country, according to the dpa news agency.
Forty-four Afghans arrived in Kabul on October 9 — the 28th such group that has been deported in less than three years.
Since December 2016, 720 Afghans have been flown back to Afghanistan.
Amnesty International and other international organizations continue to campaign to suspend forced returns of Afghans from European Union countries, saying Afghanistan is too dangerous for individuals to be deported to, and that they should be allowed to stay in Germany instead.
At least 18 Taliban insurgents have been killed in Dasht-e Archi district of Kunduz province, Army officials said.
217 Pamir Corps in a statement on Wednesday said that a joint clearance operation of Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) backed with Air Force was launched Tuesday morning from several directions in Dasht-e Archi district of Kunduz province.
12 Taliban were killed and 6 others wounded in the operation, the statement stated.
According to the statement, Qarlaq villages have been cleared of Taliban insurgents so far.
The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg has officially returned a marble dado panel from the “Royal Palace of Mas’ud III in Ghazni” to Afghanistan.
MKG is one of the first German museums to return a work of art to Afghanistan.
Beyond investigating Nazi art looting and the issue of colonial collections, the museum has been increasingly turning its attention to more recent acquisitions as well.
In the late 1970s, it was stolen from Ghazni’s Rawza Museum of Islamic Art. Now, after years of research, assisted by scholars from the University of Hamburg and the Sapienza Universitá di Roma, as well as close cooperation between German and Afghan authorities, the panel can finally be handed back to its rightful owners.
For the time being it will be kept in the Afghan National Museum in Kabul.
The provenance was not a cause of concern at first, but upon closer study it turned out that the object had in fact been stolen from the Rawza Museum of Islamic Art in Ghazni.
It was possible to trace the dado panel to excavations carried out by archeologists from Afghanistan and Italy between 1957 and 1966.
The archeological finds were handed over at the time to the Rawza Museum, where they were documented as new accessions.
The later destabilization of Afghanistan in 1978 and the invasion by the Soviet Army in 1979 led to the museum’s collections being transported off site for safekeeping.
During this relocation, the panel now in the possession of MKG was apparently stolen or moved elsewhere, and showed up on the Paris art market in the early 1990s.
Many international museums have objects from Afghanistan that come from the same excavations in Ghazni.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that a car bomb has been detected and defused in Sar-e Pol province.
The police special operations unit detected and defused a bomb car in cooperation with highway police in Sar-e Pul, MoI spokesperson, Nasrat Rahimi said Tuesday night.
He noted that the Taliban group had placed around 1000kg of explosives inside a vehicle and were planning to carry out an attack by detonating the car bomb in Sar-e Pol province.
A suspect was detained during the operation in connection with explosive-laden vehicle, Rahimi added.
The chief of Al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, National Directorate of Security (NDS) confirmed.
Asim Umer, who led Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) from its inception in 2014, was killed during a raid September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.
He “was killed along with six other AQIS members, most of them Pakistani”, the NDS said on Twitter on Tuesday, adding that Umar had been “embedded” inside the Taliban compound in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala.
The NDS said that the courier for core al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was among killed in the operation.
Zawahiri has led al-Qaida since Osama Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. special operations raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.
The United States invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11, 2001 attacks against the US.
The middle-aged Umar was relatively unknown when he was picked to lead the newly created AQIS in 2014.
The terrorist branch was established to try to rouse fighters in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
But the Taliban group has denied the death of Asim Umer, calling the report “enemy fabricated propaganda.
The power supply company De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) has announced that the electricity of Kabul and a number of provinces was cut after a power pylon was destroyed in Salang.
DABS in a statement on Wednesday said that a 220 kWh power pylon was blown up by embedded mine in Tangi Ajan area of southern Salang at around 01:30 AM on Wednesday.
The statement noted that the electricity of several provinces including Kabul was cut after the demolition of the pylon.
According to Breshna, the employees of the company have arrived at the area and they try repair the damaged power pylon as soon as possible.
Power transmission lines in Afghanistan have been damaged many times over the past year.
UK has announced full support for the Afghan Presidential Election and the independence of the electoral bodies.
“The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Compliant Commission (ECC) must be allowed to do their job without any interference”, UK embassy to Kabul said in a statement.
According to the statement, UK welcomed the clarity from IEC on the validity of votes backed up by biometric devices.
“The result of process must be transparent and credible. This is what people who voted on Election Day deserve”, the statement reads.
It also added that the UK encourage all candidates to exercise restraint and await the official announcement of the result by the IEC; the only body legally authorized to do so.
The embassy emphasized that the UK government remains impartial to the election result.
“We support the democratic process, not the individual candidates or tickets. The legitimacy of the result is not affected by turnout”, the statement added.