Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is ready to operate the Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul if the conditions are met by its interlocutors, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. Turkey has done its best for the safety and prosperity of the Afghan people, the minister said, speaking at a military ceremony.
Reiterating that the country has been working for 20 years to bring peace to Afghanistan, Akar stated that Turkey has been operating the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul for the last six years and wants to continue managing the airport to support Afghans. “If the conditions are met, we are willing to run this airport to meet the security, peace and necessities of our Afghan brothers, to support our Afghan brothers. Our discussions are ongoing on the matter,” he stated.
Ankara has been running the military and logistic operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. Turkey proposed to secure and manage the airport in Kabul after the NATO troops end its mission as a Resolute Support Mission in September. The issue was also discussed at the NATO Leaders’ Summit held in Brussels, as well as at the tête-à-tête meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Ankara has asked the U.S. to meet the airport operating cost, which varies between $80 million and $130 million annually. Turkey also wants that some of the defense facilities of the U.S. military for the security of the airport to remain in Kabul and that the U.S. Army continues the logistics support. Ankara expects the mission should have an international statute.
In other news, Toofan Omari, the prosecutor for combating internal and external security crimes at the Bagram Prison Justice Center and a former reporter for the Hashte Subh daily, was assassinated in the Dehsabz district of Kabul province.
Jamshid Rasouli, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, told Hashte Subh daily that the incident took place on Sunday, in Dehsabz district. According to Rasouli, Toofan Omari was on duty at Bagram Prison and was killed in a “terrorist” attack while returning to Kabul in Kabul’s Dehsabz district.
Toofan Omari previously worked as a reporter for the Hashte Subh daily in Paktia province and the southeastern part of the country. He was also in charge of Paktia Voice Radio. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the assassination.
Kabul: Local sources in Takhar province said that the Taliban have stepped up their attacks on security positions in Taloqan. The head of the Takhar Provincial Council says fighting is raging in the suburbs.
According to these sources, the Taliban have taken control of parts of the city, but security forces are fiercely resisting the group’s fighters. The men said that the battlefield needs air support and reinforcements, given the scale of the Taliban offensive.
The sources warn that the Taliban may advance if reinforcements do not arrive and air support is not provided to front-line troops. Wafiullah Rahmani, chairman of the Takhar Provincial Council, told 8Sobh that the fighting was taking place in the Pul-e Marshall area and the PD3 on the outskirts of the city.
The head of the Takhar Provincial Council said locals are fighting alongside security forces against the Taliban, but need reinforcements. Rahmani called on the central government to provide air support to the frontline forces and to send reinforcements.
According to reports, 137 government and civilian forces have been killed in the city of Taloqan in the past two months following repeated Taliban attacks. The Taliban had previously taken control of Takhar districts, but the group’s attack on the city of Taloqan met with fierce resistance from security forces.
The Taliban have also attacked the capital of Kunduz province, which borders Takhar province. Parts of Kunduz city have fallen as a result of the Taliban attack. On the other hand, security forces, especially army commandos, have launched a clean-up operation in the city of Kunduz. On the other hand, local officials said that the Taliban have launched an offensive in the Astana Kalan area of Panjshir province. They said that a group of 70 Taliban insurgents had attacked the area on the border between Abshar Panjshir and Shahin district in Laghman province.
Mohammad Sohrab Sohrab, Abshar district governor of Panjshir province, confirmed the news. According to Sohrab, there are no reports of casualties in these armed clashes. Panjshir borders seven provinces, including Laghman, Nuristan and Badakhshan.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Anti-Corruption Commission has signed the Anti-Corruption Transparency Commitment Act with the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Abdul Qayum Nezami, head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, signed the commitment letter on Sunday. Based on this document, the Government of Afghanistan has committed to the International Convention against corruption, which acts transparently in the fight against corruption in the country and keeps civil society informed about this process.
Nizami told a news conference that the reflection of anti-corruption efforts in the country’s offices in international reports shows the international community’s satisfaction with the government’s performance in fighting corruption in Afghanistan. Farukh Leqa Onchizada, deputy head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, stated that the signing of this commitment obliges the Afghan government to share the full plan and time frame of its self-assessment process in the fight against corruption with civil society and the public.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health announced on Sunday that 1.8 million people in Afghanistan have received the coronavirus vaccine so far.
Dastgir Nazari, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, told Hashte Subh daily on Sunday that at least 1.8 million Afghan civilians had received the vaccine and Afghanistan currently has 5.1 million doses of the vaccine, which includes the Indian AstraZeneca vaccine and the American Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, the process of implementing these vaccines continues. The process of implementing the coronavirus vaccine in the country began last year.
So far, India, the United States, China and Sweden, and the Global Vaccine Coalition have helped Afghanistan with the vaccine doses. The Afghan government has also allocated some funds for the coronavirus vaccine.
This comes even as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday recorded 320 new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 28 deaths in the past 24 hours. The total cases now stand at 150,778, while the death toll is 6,936.
Kabul: Local officials in Kandahar province said that all civilian flights have been suspended following Taliban rocket attacks on parts of the province’s airport.
Massoud Ahmad Pashtun, director of Ahmad Shah Abdali Airport, told VOA on Sunday that the Taliban had fired several rockets at parts of the airport at 10am on Sunday, but that no damage had been seen. “When the airport is hit by rockets, it is natural that airlines will not risk the lives of their passengers,” Pashtun added.
The head of the airport stressed that civilian flights from the airport would resume soon. It is said that several rockets hit parts of the airport. Kandahar Airport is located 30 km from Kandahar city. In parts of this airport, there are several important military centers, including the 205th Atal Corps.
Afghan officials said that Afghan forces recaptured parts of Dand district on Saturday and clashes between the two sides are ongoing in the district. The Taliban have not yet commented on the rocket attacks on Kandahar airport.
On the other hand, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance stated that the new commando special forces were deployed in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan, to suppress the enemies of peace and stability of the Afghan people.
Also, 260 soldiers in Kabul and 127 soldiers and brigadiers in Kandahar joined the ANA on Sunday after receiving advanced training and are scheduled to go to the battlefields to defend the lives and property of the people. Soldiers who volunteered to join ANA pledged to defend Afghanistan. And the NDS has arrested an individual with 125kg of explosives in Surkh Rod district, Nangarhar province, as per the Provincial Governor’s Office
Meanwhile, President Ghani met with prominent jihadi leader, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, at the Presidential Palace before noon on Sunday, and discussed the security situation. Sayyaf announced his support for the system, national consensus, ANDSF, national interests and values of the past two decades, as per the Presidential Palace statement.
President Ghani also met with Hizb-e Wahdat Party leader, Mohammad Karim Khalili, at the Presidential Palace and discussed the security situation. Khalili announced his support for the republic system, ANDSF, preservation of the values of the past 2 decades, and strengthening a unified position against the enemy, as per the Presidential Palace statement.
Meanwhile, the ongoing war and severe drought in Afghanistan have increased the number of malnourished children to more than three million. An official from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Afghanistan has called the current situation in Afghanistan “devastating” given the escalation of the conflict and the severity of the drought.
Most Afghan children have been affected by the situation, Mustapha Ben Messaoud, Chief Field Operations, UNICEF Afghanistan, told RFE / RL. “The news is shocking, but not surprising. Drought has been declared in recent weeks and the war has reached a deadly and destructive stage. While children have been forced to flee their homes, most of the time they are not fed healthily,” said Messaoud. “They do not even know where their other food will come from.”
According to Messaoud, UNICEF is assisting 11 of its partner agencies in delivering food and other necessities to combat this humanitarian crisis. UNICEF says Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) distributes ready-to-use therapeutic food in a number of Afghan provinces.
Messaoud predicts that by the end of this year, one in two children under the age of five in Afghanistan will be mentally ill or malnourished due to malnutrition and will not be able to attend school. Meanwhile, an official from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health told RFE / RL on Saturday that about half of Afghanistan’s population lives below the poverty line, which he said has been exacerbated by recent wars and severe droughts. Mursal Manati, director of nutrition at the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, said most children were affected.
Manati added, “The number of children under the age of five suffering from acute and severe malnutrition is 895,000. The number of children with acute malnutrition is on average 2.2 million, which brings the total number of malnourished children in the country to 3.2 million.” “About 720,000 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are still malnourished.”
According to Mursal Manati, the number of people with malnutrition in Afghanistan is growing by 15 percent annually.
Kabul: Paktia police say that 12 members of a family were killed and two others were injured when a Taliban roadside bomb exploded in Paktia’s Sayed Karam district.
Hayatullah Nezami Ahmadzai, spokesman for the Paktia Police, said that a mine had exploded in the Chaniya area of Sayed Karam district of Paktia province Saturday night. Nezami said 12 people, including women and children, were killed and two others were injured in the blast.
The Paktia police spokesman said the mine had been planted on the highway. The Taliban have not yet commented.
Also, Taliban conducted attacks against Bak district center and security outposts in Sabari district last night, which was repulsed by the ANDSF. The ANDSF killed over 100 Taliban insurgents and wounded 50 others. The Taliban insurgents killed eight civilians and wounded 10 others in Bak district, as per the 203rd Thunder Army Corps.
Meanwhile, Abdul Ahad Torial Kakar, a member of the Kunduz Provincial Council, told Subhe Kabul daily that clashes had been going on in Kunduz for several days and that Taliban fighters had entered the city on Sunday morning. On the other hand, other sources in Kunduz province say that Taliban fighters have taken control of the prison in the province and released their prisoners.
Security officials have not yet commented on the matter. However, commandos launched a clearance operation at the General Abdul Raziq square and the headquarters of the Kunduz National Radio and Television. As a result, the mentioned areas were cleared of Taliban.
Meanwhile, a security source in Ghazni province confirmed that Taliban fighters have abducted two policewomen in the provincial capital. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Etilaat roz daily that the Taliban had taken the two policewomen from the Sai Ganj area in the PD1 of Ghazni city. According to him, the Taliban abducted them on their way home from work. They have now been transferred to an unknown location by the Taliban.
In other news, for about a month now, seven commercial ports have fallen to the Taliban. The Taliban control the ports of Islam Qala, Torghundi, Aqina, Sher Khan Bandar, Abu Nasr Farahi, Spin Boldak and Dand-e Patan in Paktia. The collapse of these ports, however, did not have much effect on prices. Only the prices of oil (fuel), flour, and cooking oil have risen, which has little to do with the collapse of the ports, because trade in these ports and the ports owned by the Afghan government is normal, as per officials of the Afghan chamber of commerce and investment. The rate of other materials is the same as when the ports were in the hands of the government. Material prices have not risen in the ports because the Taliban receive the same amount of tax from commercial goods as they used to from commercial vehicles on the highways.
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment says that the price of only three items in the market has risen due to the collapse of ports. According to Khan Jan Alokozai, the chamber’s deputy, oil prices have risen because the Taliban are stopping tankers carrying them on the road on suspicion of reaching government forces and the price of flour, he said, will reduce soon.
The Taliban closed the Spin Boldak crossing yesterday and announced that the Taliban would not reopen the border crossing until Islamabad resumes issuing visas to AFG nationals. Khan Jan Alokozai also confirms that the Taliban are taking the same amount of tax from traders as they used to take on highways. According to him, the Taliban collect up to 120,000 afghanis from each container of commercial goods.
The reason for the increase in the price of a number of materials, apart from the issue of port collapse, is the fall in the value of the Afghani currency against the dollar. Afghan traders trade with countries in dollars, and when the dollar rises, material prices rise automatically. Alokozai blamed the deteriorating security and political situation for the depreciation of the Afghani against the dollar.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance, however, has announced that the government’s revenue from ports has decreased by more than $2 billion afghanis compared to two months ago. Rafi Tabe, a spokesman for the ministry, told the Etilaat Roz daily that the Ministry of Finance has shut down ports of Islam Qala, Torghundi, Abu Nasr Farahi, Spin Boldak, Ay Khanum, Dand-e Patan and Sher Khan Bandar.
The Ministry of Finance is talking about a decrease in customs revenue while the government’s customs activity is taking place in border cities. The provincial capitals of Herat, Helmand, Jawzjan, Takhar and Kunduz are under heavy Taliban attacks. Businessmen are worried that war will spread to urban centers and warn that if the situation does not improve, trade in Afghanistan will stagnate. Khan Jan Alokozai expressed concern about the war in the cities, saying that if this continued, it would severely damage trade and cause traders to withdraw their capital. He cites as an example the burning of two markets in Lashkar Gah as a result of the war, which caused huge financial losses to merchants and traders.
Kabul: Local sources on Sunday said that Babur Ishchi, the head of Jowzjan provincial council, has surrendered to the Taliban. Sources say that Ishchi fought with the Taliban for more than an hour on a hill in the Khwaja Du Koh district of the province on Saturday, but was forced to surrender to the Taliban with 20 of his subordinates due to lack of aid.
According to sources, the Taliban released all his subordinates, but took Babur Ishchi with his brother Batur. A relative of Ishchi says that the fate of Babur Ishchi is still unknown. Official sources have not yet said anything. The Taliban also said in a statement that Babur Ishchi and 20 of his subordinates had surrendered to the group on Saturday evening. In fact, the Ministry of Defense said that on Saturday night, the air force targeted Taliban insurgents in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. As a result, Mawlavi Hijrat, a prominent Taliban commander responsible for the offensive operations of the group in the province, was killed. And special commando forces launched a clearing operation in the capital of Ghazni province on Saturday night. As a result, a Pakistani terrorist was arrested.
On the other hand, following the capture of Jowzjan provincial capital in the north and Nimruz province in the west, US President Joe Biden has ordered the US military to target Taliban positions with B-52 assault rifles. The British Daily Mail reports that Joe Biden issued the order to prevent Afghan cities from falling to the Taliban.
Also, widespread Taliban attacks to capture Sheberghan, the birthplace of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, began a week ago. Government control is now limited to Jawzjan Airport and Khwaja Do Koh district, Marshal Dostum’s hometown.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry says the Taliban have carried out terrorist attacks on 24 mosques since the beginning of the year. The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that 30 religious scholars had been killed in the Taliban attacks. The Interior Ministry also said that 70 others of them were injured in the Taliban attacks. Mosques have also been damaged in Taliban attacks. The Taliban have not yet commented.
Also, some people flocked to loot public property from government institutions in the city of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, after it fell to the Taliban on Friday, sparking strong reaction from residents of other provinces, as well as, religious scholars. Many videos were released following the fall of Zaranj to the Taliban showing people carrying equipment as they took them out of government institutions, including governor’s compound.
Another footage from Zaranj shows prisoners escaping the main provincial prison. A similar scenario happened in Sheberghan, the capital of Jawzjan in northern Afghanistan, after it fell to the Taliban on Saturday. “This shows the Taliban has no plan for governance or for providing service to the people,” presidential adviser Shahussain Murtazawi said. “This time, Talibs are following the policy of looting.”
“I have already mentioned that if the Taliban had the will to build, they should first come up with peace, sit with Afghans and build this country together,” Zabul provincial council’s chairman Ata Jan Haq Bayan said. Religious scholars also condemned indifference to protection of public property by the people.
As violence continues in the country, the government said last month that in the districts recently seized by the Taliban, essential government services have been halted, and a large number of civil servants have been harmed, or displaced from their areas to provincial capitals. According to government findings, the Taliban either torched or destroyed 260 government buildings and assets in 116 districts.
The findings show that 13 million Afghans have been deprived of social services in the Taliban-held areas and 50,000 employees, including women, have been affected in areas under the influence of the group. Taliban has rejected the findings. The group announced on Saturday that all government employees “will be safe” in areas under their control.
On the other hand, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan also condemned the Taliban seizure of cities. “We condemn the Taliban’s violent new offensive against Afghan cities. This includes the unlawful seizure of Zaranj, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, the attack on Sheberghan, capital of Jowzjan province yesterday and today, and continuing efforts to take over Lashkar Gah in Helmand and provincial capitals elsewhere,” the statement read.
“These Taliban actions to forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process. They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country’s humanitarian crisis. We call for the Taliban to agree to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and to engage fully in peace negotiations to end the suffering of the Afghan people and pave the way for an inclusive political settlement that benefits all Afghans and ensures that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists,” the statement added.
Kabul: Ministry of Education officials in Nangarhar province in the east of the country say that for the first time 12 girls in Nazian district of Nangarhar province graduated from the 12th grade of Surobi school in this district.
Hasibullah Shinwari, the director of education in Nangarhar province, said that they are the first girls to graduate from the 12th grade of one of the schools in the Nazian district of the province. Shinwari said that they are trying to use these girls as teachers in girls’ schools in Nazian district of Nangarhar province.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Film Organization held the “Avant-Garde Experimental Film Festival” in Kabul. Of 34 competitors, three of its films got the podium finishes. Sahra Karimi, the chairperson of Afghan Film, said at the ceremony that the cinema family will fight the enemies of the country by holding this festival and their struggles will continue. Referring to the activities of this organization, she said that no group can stop their hope and enthusiasm for making films. The first lady of the country, Rula Ghani, sent a message saying that holding such festivals could be effective for the film industry and strengthen the culture. She called on the country’s filmmakers and cinematographers to work on producing films that strengthen the country’s authentic culture.
Mohammad Qasem Wafayeezada, Acting Minister of Information and Culture, also stressed on the support of the film industry, saying that he is working to strengthen the industry to provide the necessary facilities.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice on Sunday rejected the publication of news related to the draft state of emergency that has been reflected in some media.
The Ministry of Justice clarifies that it is working on a draft law on “Government Responsibilities and People’s Participation in Emergencies, Unexpected Disasters and Natural Disasters.” The law focuses on natural disasters, emergencies, accident prediction and prevention, service delivery, and how people contribute to emergencies caused by natural disasters and pests.
This comes as in a suggestion to the President, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum had said that the government should declare martial law in the country. Ehsan Niroo, a spokesman for the Islamic National Movement Party, said that Marshal Dostum had proposed that a large meeting be held in one of the commando units with the presence of political leaders to declare martial law in the country.
He added that the security of Kabul city and its belts, Hamid Karzai International Airport, the establishment of a regular force in the north of the country and the monitoring of the situation in Kabul city by national security are other pillars of Marshall Dostum’s security plan. Due to the security situation in Sheberghan, Marshal Dostum has proposed to the President to send 500 special forces to Jowzjan, which has been accepted by President Ghani.
Meanwhile, local officials in Jawzjan province say that with the Taliban invading the center of Jowzjan province, the fighting continues and the Taliban were able to set up their white flag in the central square of Sheberghan. According to him, the Taliban have released all the prisoners by seizing Sheberghan prison. The Taliban also released videos showing people crossing a road. They also claim that they were able to capture the prison and release them. According to Mohammad Karim Jawzjani, MP for Jawzjan province, reinforcements have just arrived in Sheberghan. Reports from Balkh province also indicate that heavy fighting broke out this morning in Pul-e-Imam Bokri and Kud-e-Barq, near the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Army. Seyed Mustafa Sadat, Dehdadi district governor, said 11 mortar shells hit the 209th Shaheen Corps in the north and west of the corps just before noon on Saturday.
This comes even as a security meeting chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was held on Saturday evening at the Presidential Palace, during which the general security situation in the country, especially on vulnerable points, was discussed.
Officials from security and defense agencies shared with the president a report on activities and plans to repel enemy attacks. After hearing their reports and information, President Ghani praised the courage, sacrifice and timely actions of the security and defense forces on the front lines of the war and other parts of the country, in order to neutralize the conspiracies and repel the enemy attacks and he gave the necessary instructions to the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has ordered B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to target Taliban positions in Afghanistan who are advancing towards key cities, as embattled Afghan security forces are fighting the resurgent group in various parts of the country. These bombers are being supported by the AC-130 Spectre gunships which are armed with a 25mm Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm M102 cannon, which can provide pinpoint accurate fire from the air, the report said. Afghan security forces and the Taliban are engaged in fierce fighting in the capital cities of Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces in the north of Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Pakhtun Qaumi Jirga on Saturday asked the government to revisit foreign policy in the wake of changing scenarios in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
Arranged by Mazdoor Kissan Party (MKP), the jirga was attended by MKP head Afzal Shah Khamosh, Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Sikandar Sherpao, Awami National Party’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Aimal Wali Khan, Abdul Jalil Jan of the Jamait Ulema-e-Islam, Member National Assembly Mohsin Dawar, Manzoor Pashteen of the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement, Said Alam Mehsud of Pakhtun Ulasi Tehreek, Mukhtiar Bacha of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Pakistan People’s Party provincial head Humayun Khan, Sabir Hussain of the Jamaat-e-Islami and others.
The leaders thoroughly discussed the agenda points, including the changing situation in Afghanistan, new wave of terrorism, rights of Pakhtuns, upholding of constitution, supremacy of parliament, constitutional powers of institutions, delay in National Finance Commission and other issues confronted by the people. The jirga later issued a 21-point declaration and condemned the interference in Afghanistan by the neighbouring countries.
Also, on the 23rd anniversary of the killing of Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement asking for the clarification of the truth behind the terrorist incident. “The 8th of August is a reminder of one of the bitterest days for the diplomatic apparatus of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 23 years ago, on such a day, Iranian diplomats and a journalist were cowardly martyred at the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, in violation of international laws and treaties and Islamic and human logic. The Islamic Republic of Iran, while commemorating the martyrs of this incident and strongly condemning the terrorist act, continues to pursue the clarification of the hidden dimensions of this case as a definite demand of the Iranian government and people.”