Newsfeed; Tuesday, July 13 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Blast In Kabul City Kills 4, Injures 11

    Kabul: Four civilians were killed and 11 others were injured in an explosion on the Maiwand road in PD1 of Kabul on Tuesday.

    Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz put the death toll at four and said that the blast was caused by an IED in a crowded area. He added that an investigation is underway. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

    Meanwhile, Kabul police said that they have prevented a landmine explosion in the Kubaki area of Kabul’s Paghman district.

    Also, Khost’s provincial police headquarters reported to have repulsed Taliban attack against Musakhel district. The Taliban claimed on Tuesday morning that they captured the district, but the provincial police rejected the claim.

    Also, Laghman’s Provincial Governor Abdul Wali Wahidzai claimed that foreign fighters, including Uzbek, Uighur, Pakistani, and al-Qaeda members, along with the Afghan Taliban are fighting the ANDSF in the province. While speaking to Etilaat roz daily, Wahidzai said that the ANDSF have inflicted heavy casualties to the Taliban, and airstrikes killed 34 insurgents including three key commanders on Monday. Wahidzai added that a ground and air operation was launched to recapture Alingar district. The Taliban rejected the presence of foreign fighters within the group ranks.

    Meanwhile, MoI Spokesman Tariq Arian stated that Hamidullah, aka Daud, Taliban’s intelligence in-charge for Daikundi province, was killed along with seven insurgents in a targeted operation by the ANDSF in Malistan district of Ghazni province. Arian added that Hamidullah had entered the district in assist and support local Taliban.

    Also, reliable sources told Etilaat roz daily that the ANDSF have tactically retreated from Alingar district, Laghman province to Bara Khan Base, on Tuesday morning. The sources added that two Ranger Ford vehicles, two Humvees, and some weapons were left at the building. The Taliban claimed to have captured the district, despite government’s deployment of reinforcements.

    Meanwhile, in the first hours after arriving in Mazar-e-Sharif, President Ghani chaired a security meeting in the province aimed at improving the security situation in Balkh and neighboring provinces. Balkh Governor Farhad Azimi told a news conference that the president’s visit focused on reviewing and analyzing the security situation in Balkh. He said serious security measures have been taken to ensure security as well as repel Taliban attacks. According to him, these measures will be “practical and accurate” and will be led by Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president.

    Fazly said that in the current situation, the government is focusing on the deployment program. Referring to security problems, especially the fall of districts, he said that after the withdrawal of international troops, the Afghan government went through the transition process in a matter of weeks, while it took months. According to him, efforts are being made to preserve areas that are now under government control and to take measures for the lost areas.

    According to him, first the lost areas will be taken back and then the important ports and highways will be taken back from the Taliban. The Hairatan crossing in Balkh province has come under threat after the Taliban attacked the Shortpa and Kaldar districts. The governor of Balkh said that now the security fortifications around Hairatan and the road leading to it have been taken over and traders can trade without worries. During his visit to Balkh, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also met with Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of the province. According to the Arg, the current situation in the country and the need for a national consensus and support for the country’s security and defense forces were discussed during the meeting. President Ghani also met with IDPs from neighboring provinces, youth, religious scholars and other segments of the province.

    Also, Director General of the Administrative Office of the President, Fazel Mahmood Fazly, who accompanied President Ghani to Balkh province, said if the people’s forces want to defend the country, they should be brought under the umbrella of the ANDSF.

    Fazly added that the priority now is to preserve government’s presence across all the provinces, highways and ports should be preserved to preserve investment. Meanwhile, a source at the 209th Army Corps, who asked to remain anonymous, told BBC that President Ghani’s security meeting in Balkh province was scheduled to take place at the Corps; however, a rocket landed close to the Corps on Monday, and it was decided to hold the meeting at the governor’s office.

    Fazly also said that the government has no intention of arming popular mobilizations. He made these remarks in a joint press conference with Farhad Azimi, the governor of Balkh in Mazar-e-Sharif. He said he respects the people’s mobilization forces, but if they really want to help provide security, they will be cohesive within the security forces.

    After the fighting broke out near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, a number of former jihadi commanders and members of the House of Representatives armed their supporters under the guise of popular mobilization. In the western part of the country, the People’s Mobilization Forces are led by Ismail Khan, a member of the Jamiat Party. These forces have been formed in other provinces as well.

    In other news, during President Ghani’s visit to Balkh province today, reportedly, no journalist in Balkh was allowed to cover it. Journalists in Balkh province said that the government is preparing reports for them, instead of inviting reporters to cover the trip.

    Reviewing this Nai in a statement said, “The president should be accountable to the people and this will happen when journalists can perform their professional work face to face with the president. The lack of permission to local media and journalists during this sensitive and warlike situation, will leave hundreds of the residents of the province unanswered, which will create distrust towards the government.”

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court reported that Mohammad Ehsan Hamdard, a director from its General Finance and Administration Department, was assassinated on his way to the office on Tuesday morning. Hamdard had been working in various administrative and financial parts of the Court, over the past 34 years.

    Also, Acting Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal met with Canadian Charge d’Affaires Francois Rivest, and appreciated Canada’s assistance and cooperation with the ANDSF, especially police, and assured that these forces will not allow terrorist groups to once again threaten the security and safety of the Afghan people and international community. Rivest assured that Canada will continue to support and cooperate with the ANDSF, until the complete suppression of terrorism.

    Meanwhile, the Afghan Women’s Network Coalition for peace “Our Voice for Our Future” held a press conference with various sectors and media officials regarding the growth of recent violence, increasing of war, and violation of human rights against women which have caused domestic migration and displacements and have made the life condition tougher for the Afghan people.

    The concerns and demands of women were shared through a press release; a permanent ceasefire and a political solution having the honest, non-partisan, and sincere support of civil society, regional countries, neighbors, Taliban, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for the current dilemma of the country were requested.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Abdullah to Taliban: Peace Not Possible With Just Words

    Kabul: As Taliban attacks intensify across the country, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), said that peace cannot be achieved “just by words” and that the parties must take practical action.

    Speaking at a meeting of the Women’s Committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Kabul on Tuesday, Abdullah said that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban should take steps to help the two sides achieve peace. He stressed that the Taliban should make its demands through negotiations.

    He said the two sides must go through this stage in the peace process and work together on its next steps. Abdullah Abdullah, however, stressed that the last step should be to determine the country’s leadership based on the vote of the Afghan people. However, he said that if war is imposed on the Afghan people, the Afghan government and people must defend the people.

    Abdullah added that Afghanistan is in the same situation at the moment, but had not yet reached the end. However, he noted that this did not mean that negotiations with the Taliban would be cut off. “It means that we understand the situation and those around us,” the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation stressed. “Let’s proceed with the negotiations with all sincerity.”

    Abdullah also said the Afghan government is already ready to negotiate with the Taliban. On the other hand, he added that a meeting between the delegations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban is scheduled in the “coming days”. According to Abdullah, the meeting will be held at a different level than the current level of delegations.

    He stressed that the Afghan government delegation is ready to participate in this meeting and will participate in it with the intention of ending the war in the country. Abdullah Abdullah did not provide further details.

    Meanwhile, sources in Qatar told Hashte Subh daily that the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah leading lead a high-level delegation, representing the government, will travel to Doha on July 16, to hold talks with the Taliban. The delegation members have yet to become official. The delegation was scheduled to visit Doha last month, but was delayed due to discrepancies over the agenda.

    Confirming this, an 11-member team of Afghan politicians is expected to travel to Doha by the end of this week for talks with the Taliban, sources said. Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, Younus Qanuni, Mohammad Karim Khalili, Mohammad Mohaqqeq, Abdul Salam Rahimi, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, Enayatullah Baligh, and Fatima Gailani are part of the team, sources told Tolo News.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Taliban Members Arrested In Kabul

    Kabul: Kabul’s provincial police reported the arrest of an individual in PD7 for cooperating with the Taliban.

    Provincial Police Spokesman Firdaws Faramarz stated that the individual was arrested during a targeted operation conducted by the Special Police Unit. Faramarz added that a pistol along with ammunition and equipment, used in IED making, were also confiscated.

    Also, Kabul’s provincial police reported that a Taliban member, named Ajab Khan, was arrested with two magnetic IEDs, six IED remotes, and a silencer pistol in Golayee Dasha area of PD12 last night. An investigation is underway into the case, it added.

    Meanwhile, the Taliban have abducted a member of Khost’s provincial council, Zohra Jalal, along with five family members. One of Jalal’s son, Ayub Jalal, told VOA that based on initial information, the Taliban have taken her family members to Zarghun Shahr area of Mohammad Agha district, Logar province. Khost’s provincial council head Kafil Raihan said that Jalal along with his four sons and a daughter were on their way to Kabul, and the Taliban abducted them near Pul-e Alam city, Logar province, before noon on Tuesday. Spokesman for Logar’s Provincial Governor, Didar Lawang, said that the security agencies have yet to receive a report about the issue. The Taliban have not commented on the incident yet.

    Also, Takhar’s provincial governor’s office reported that Taliban’s shadow governor for the province, Mawlawi Nooruddin, along with the group’s shadow governor for Dashti Qala district, Shaikh Naser, have been seriously wounded during an airstrike in Konjak-e Srai Sang area of Taloqan city. Then, he succumbed to his injures, Ministry of Defense spokesperson Fawad Aman said.

    Also, Hasibaullah Massoud, commander of the army brigade in Badghis province, warned drivers of high-speed vehicles that they would set their vehicles on fire if they provoked soldiers to leave their jobs. Massoud told the Etilaat roz on Tuesday that some drivers, as well as residents of Qala-e-Naw, the center of Badghis, were asking soldiers to leave their ranks by providing temporary accommodation for them. He added that drivers who try to provoke government troops to leave their posts and transfer them will have their vehicle details registered in Herat and Badghis and then dealt with legally. “I warn all drivers who transfer troops from Qala-e-Naw to Herat without coordination and incite soldiers to leave,” he said. Earlier, Badghis Governor Hesamuddin Shams had said that some influential people and elders were going to government checkpoints and camps and asking them to leave their checkpoints.

    Also, Kabul’s provincial police reported that an improvised explosive device (IED), which was planted along the road in Kobaki area of Paghman district, was detected and detonated in a non-residential area, before noon on Tuesday. Police Spokesman Firdaws Faramars said that IEDs mostly result in civilian casualties.

    Also, President Ghani met with former Balkh’s Provincial Governor Atta Mohammad Noor at the provincial governor’s office, and offered condolences on the recent death of Noor’s brother. Both sides also discussed the current situation and the need for national consensus and support for the ANDSF, as per the Presidential Palace’s statement.

    In other news, addressing a press conference at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC), Kabul’s Provincial Governor Mohamamd Yaqoob Haidari said that 807 development projects had been planned for the province, during the 1400 fiscal year, 336 of which have been completed.

    Haidari added that about half of the 600 projects from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), including road and school constructions, have been implemented, and 39 projects in the agriculture sector, including raison houses, distribution of wheat seed, establishment of orchards and storages, have been completed, and 132 other projects are underway.

    Haidari reported that alongside 132 schools being built by the MRRD, six schools have been built by the National Development Corporation, and work is ongoing on renovating 18 school buildings and fencing financed by the provincial budget.

    Haidari appreciated people’s mobilization in the province to defend their areas against the enemy, and added that efforts are ongoing to organize these individuals within local companies, to enable them alongside the ANDSF to regularly fight the enemy.

    Parwan’s Provincial Governor Fazluddin Ayar also addressed the GMIC through videoconference and assured about an improve in security of the province, and added that an operation to recapture the lost areas from the enemy will begin with the mobilization of the ANDSF and people’s forces.

    Ayar added that between 500-600 “traitors” have been arrested and referred to the security agencies in the province over the past three months, and that the provincial government is normally operating and development projects are being implemented. Ayar emphasized the local residents of the province, including elders, youths, and clerics are supporting the system with unity.

    Meanwhile, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is warning of a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as the escalating conflict brings increased human suffering and civilian displacement. An estimated 270,000 Afghans have been newly displaced inside the country since January 2021 – primarily due to insecurity and violence – bringing the total uprooted population to over 3.5 million, as per UNHCR.

    The number of civilian casualties has risen 29 per cent during the first quarter of this year compared to 2020, according to UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. An increasing proportion of women and children were among those targeted, it stated. UNHCR and partners, as part of a coordinated response, are assisting newly displaced Afghans with emergency shelter, food, health, water and sanitation support and cash assistance, despite challenges in accessing vulnerable groups.

    UNHCR urged the international community to step up support to the Afghan Government and people of Afghanistan and its neighbors at this critical moment. It stated that humanitarian resources are currently falling dramatically short. UNHCR’s financial appeal for the Afghanistan situation (including operations for Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran) remains acutely underfunded, at only 43 per cent of a total US$ 337 million required.

    Also, the fighting in Afghanistan as NATO forces withdraw is having a grave effect on civilians, the EU’s foreign policy chief said. Josep Borrell said the number of civilian casualties was up by nearly a quarter compared to earlier in the year, with more attacks against the ethnic minority Hazaras.

    EU foreign ministers held talks on Afghanistan on Monday, when they urged the Taliban to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss an end to the fighting. “The fighting is having a grave impact on civilians,” said Borrell at a press conference in Brussels. “The ministers have unanimously urged the Taliban to engage in substantive and conclusive peace negotiations.

    Borrell said that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had risen 23 percent in the first quarter of this year. In addition, Borrell called on countries in the region and the world to play a constructive role in supporting the Afghan peace process. According to the EU foreign policy chief, he is scheduled to attend a meeting in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in the coming days. Borrell said he would attend the meeting to meet with regional actors on Afghanistan and also expected Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to attend. US Special Representative Zalmai Khalilzad will also attend the meeting.

    “We also call on countries in the region and the broader international community to play a constructive role in support of the Afghanistan peace process,” he said. The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan prompted its government to urge European countries not to deport any more Afghan migrants.

    Also, Nangarhar’s Provincial Governor Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhel met with the visiting UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov and called for provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the recent fighting and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. Amakhel provided information about the security situation, those displaced, returnees, problems within the health sector, and thanked the UN agencies for coordinating issues with the provincial government, but called for more assistance and attention in these areas.

    Amarkhel added that the Taliban will never gain power through fighting, and emphasized that the UN should put pressure on the Taliban and Pakistan to sit at the negotiating table, to prevent the destruction of public infrastructure and killing of Afghans. Alakbarov said that the UN will never remain indifferent towards human rights abuses, and will continue to fight for education and health, and assured that it will continue its support and cooperation with the Afghan people. Alakbarov added that various UN agencies are currently working on health, education, refugees, and other areas in Nangarhar province and will continue their assistance and cooperation.

    Un Deputy Special Representative Resident and Humantarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov also told Sputnik, “We continue our work in Afghanistan, but military action does not help to ensure uninterruoted delivery of supplies and smooth operations. Nevertheless, international NGOs and the UN continue to be present there and provide assistance.” He added, “In the first half of 2021, 25 humantarian workers were killed, 63 were injured and 83 were arrested. In the first six months, we had 1,120 incidents related to humantarian access, while in 2020, there were only 1,095 such incidents.”

    In other news, Ulemas, women and youth representatives came together to speak with one voice in support of peace efforts in a series of UN-sponsored radio programs broadcast in the southern provinces of Uruzgan and Zabul. “Youth participation is very important in the peace process because they have energy and potential to broker a peace deal acceptable to all,” a local peace activist and civil society representative in Uruzgan, Gran Hewad, told listeners.

    Participants also discussed their roles in building a culture of peace, and in preventing and resolving local conflicts. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob Sabiri, head of the public awareness section at the Pilgrimage Department in Zabul, in another program, highlighted the role of Ulemas in raising awareness concerning a peaceful settlement to the conflict. “Peace is central to Islam and therefore it is vital to convey this message to parties and those fighting on the frontlines,” he said.

    Other participants echoed the importance of freedom of expression, human rights, access to education, health, work, movement, assembly, and demonstration and other basic rights should be protected and preserved. They also listed women’s rights as an important and something that must be protected. The ten radio programmes are estimated to reach around half a million listeners both in Uruzgan and Zabul provinces.

    In fact, in view of the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, Finland is suspending deportations to the country for the time being. The Finnish Immigration Service announced on Monday that the “issuing of negative notices” for Afghan citizens had been suspended on Friday. A spokesperson from the Finnish Immigration Service said that suspending deportations did not mean that those affected would automatically receive permanent residence permits, but decisions on their applications would be postponed. The government has not set an end date for the suspension.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    WHO Donates Emergency Kits To MoPH

    Kabul: The World Health Organization (WHO) donated a shipment of 70 metric tons of emergency kits to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), on Monday.

    The package has been provided to enable the MoPH address emergency cases. MoPH’s Director General for Policy and Planning appreciated the WHO for its assistance and said that the MoPH is determined to provide healthcare services to the people across health centers, in all circumstances. The 2nd shipment is expected to arrive in Kabul on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, MoPH and Afghan hospitals gained the membership of the International Hospital Federation. Acting Public Health Minister Vahid Majroh held a videoconference with Federation’s CEO Ronald Lavater on Tuesday, and discussed Afghanistan’s membership, bilateral cooperation, particularly launching capacity building programs, defining and implementing standards within Afghanistan’s public hospitals, and Lavater pledged to cooperate.

    Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Hospital Federation is a non-profit, non-governmental international membership organization, which helps hospitals and healthcare organizations deliver better health.

    Also, a coordination meeting between the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Civil Aviation Authority, Investment Facilitation Unit of the Administrative Office of the President, and Afghanistan’s Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) focused on the UAE’s concerns about the high number of COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan, flight suspension, and plans of the MoPH and partner agencies to control and limit the spread of the virus in the country, and comply with international health rules as a prerequisite for the re-launch of flights to UAE.

    Acting Public Health Minister Vahid Majroh issued the necessary directives to the relevant agencies about the quick response Code (QR-Code) to ensure transparency, prevent corruption and fraud in PCR tests and COVID-19 vaccine cards, and the compliance of these documents with international standards. The meeting also emphasized on the need for serious oversight for ensuring the quality of PCR test results by public and private COVID-19 laboratories, and joint cooperation and work between relevant agencies.

    This comes even as the Ministry of Public Health MoPH recorded 754 new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and 72 deaths in the past 24 hours. The total cases now stand at 136,643, while death toll is 5,921.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Qala-e Naw City Cleared Of Taliban Insurgents

    Kabul: Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Fawad Aman stated that the ANDSF have cleared Qala-e Naw city, Badghis province, of insurgents who sustained heavy casualties. Aman added that the clearance operation is ongoing in other parts.

    However, Ghazni’s provincial council member Fatima Rahimi told BBC that Malistan district fell to the Taliban on Monday afternoon, whilst the ANDSF had left the district before noon, after three days of clashes. Rahimi added that the Taliban entered the district through the neighboring Uruzgan province. Currently, the government controls only Jaghori and Nawur districts from 18 provincial districts in Ghazni province as per Hashte Subh daily reports.

    Hasht-e Sobh Daily quoted district governor Amir Mohammad Jawed that the district was temporarily evacuated after the fall of two security outposts. Additionally, Jawed said that there was not adequate personnel and ammunition. He said several people had been killed and wounded as a result of Taliban attacks. Civilian casualties have also been reported as a result of Taliban attacks.

    The city of Ghazni has been under heavy Taliban attacks for several days now. The fighting in the city of Ghazni has entered residential areas and parts of it have fallen to the Taliban. Civilian casualties have also been reported during the clashes.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of women in Jowzjan announced their support for the ANDSF on Tuesday morning. Provincial governor’s office stated that these women emphasized that they will not return to the dark past, and if peace is not achieved, they’re prepared to defend the country along with the ANDSF.

    This comes even as President Ashraf Ghani chaired a senior security meeting in Balkh governor’s office and issued necessary directives to improve the security situation in Balkh and neighboring provinces.

    Ghani added that international commitments are in place to finance and equip the ANDSF and local officials have the full support from the government leadership. Security officials assured that they are prepared for any sacrifices with the support from the people and thwart enemy conspiracies.

    Also, former President Hamid Karzai said that the government and the Taliban must make peace and end the war. The former president told the Taliban that they would not get anywhere by capturing the districts. The former president on Tuesday, in a press conference, called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to stop fighting and to speed up the peace process and hurry to reach an agreement.

    Karzai told reporters that serious peace talks will begin soon and asked the people to be patient. At the same time, he stated that he hoped that the United States would work to establish friendship, that peace be established in Afghanistan, that national sovereignty be restored, and that Afghans live with dignity. Addressing the Taliban, Karzai said, “We worked very hard to build a national army and a national police force, and from nothing, we created a system for the country. We must preserve our government institutions in any way possible and move towards peace as soon as possible.”

    On the other hand, the former president added that if peace is established and the Taliban comes, he will cooperate with them, but the leadership of the country and the determination of the future government of Afghanistan belong to the will of the people and will be determined by the people. “By accepting the will of the people, we accept the leadership of everyone,” he added.

    However, he stressed that Afghanistan is a victim of the policy of using extremism by major world powers. According to him, the explosion in the school of Sayyid al-Shuhada and the ISIS group is the result of this policy. “We hoped that this policy would change and that the great powers would not use the tools of extremism against each other; unfortunately, this process is still ongoing.”

    Karzai called on the government and the Taliban not to miss the opportunity for peace and to save the country. The former president did not explicitly state his position on the formation of the popular uprising, but said he did not approve of either side waging the war. Hamid Karzai expressed optimism about the peace process and announced the start of serious talks in the near future.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    New Governor Appointments Announced

    Kabul: Murad Ali Murad has been appointed as the governor of Daikundi and Mohammad Taher Zaheer has been appointed as the governor of Bamyan, Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) announced in a statement on Tuesday.

    The appointment of the two new governors was signed on Monday night. Murad Ali Murad has the military rank of general. He has previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Security at the Ministry of Interior, and Commander of the Kabul Garrison.

    Mohammad Tahir Zaheer has more than five years of experience in Bamyan province. He has also served for a year as Acting Minister of Information and Culture.

    Previously, Rashida Shahidi served as the governor of Daikundi and Sayyed Anwar Rahmati as the governor of Bamyan.

  • 13 Jul 2021 Share this post

    777th Special Brigade Of Afghan Air Force And Special Forces Unit To Be Merged: Ghani

    Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Tuesday that he will be combining the special forces unit along with 777th special brigade of the Afghan air force. At the height of the clashes, the Afghan president expressed confidence that the air force would change the course of the war and provide the necessary stability.

    President Ashraf Ghani raised this issue on Monday evening in a conversation with some pilots of the Air Force Special Brigade. A video of the conversation was posted on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Palace. Ghani said, “The 777th Brigade will remain absolutely special, as your name is Diamond, special attention will be paid to you, and at the same time, you will be drawn from other tasks, you will be qualified for night operations.”

    Afghan defense officials say airstrikes in recent weeks have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban. President Ghani announced the reversal of the war by the air force, which reported the intensity of insecurity in various provinces.

    Also, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, said that the Taliban cannot win militarily. He emphasized that the Taliban could not impose their will on the people: “They cannot impose their will on the people militarily. Some people agree with their views, but there are many who do not accept them. Or impose 35 million people, but that will not happen.”

    Meanwhile, President Ghani also led a high-level government delegation to Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh province, on Tuesday morning to assess the security situation and meet provincial officials and local elders.

    Also, local officials in Takhar province reported that the Taliban conducted attacks against Shorab and Srai Sang areas of Taloqan on Monday night, which faced fierce resistance by the ANDSF and people’s forces. The provincial police stated that 15 Taliban insurgents were killed and 20 others were wounded during the clashes, and assured that the ANDSF and people’s forces are fighting the Taliban across the city with high morale and complete coordination.

    The 217th Pamir Corps too reported that the Taliban conducted attacks against ANDSF outposts in Kuran wa Munjan district in Badakhshan province from several directions on Tuesday morning, which faced fierce resistance from the ANDSF. The Corps added that 32 Taliban insurgents were killed and 14 others were wounded in counterattack by the ANDSF. Additionally, four Taliban vehicles, and a number of weapons and ammunition were destroyed during the attack.

    However, local sources in Bamyan province told Radio Azadi that the ANDSF tactically retreated from Kahmard district. Several local residents confirmed that district officials evacuated the center without any clashes, and a number of locals have raised Taliban flag in the district headquarters. Etilaat roz Daily quoted Deputy Head of Bamyan’s provincial council, Abdul Ahmad Benawa as saying that Saighan district fell to the Taliban on Tuesday morning. Benawa added that the ANDSF evacuated the district, after several hours of clashes. Provincial Police Spokesman Humayun Elkhani confirmed that the ANDSF have evacuated Kahmard and Saighan districts, due to their ineffective presence there.

    Also, Kabul police confirmed that three security personnel were killed by unidentified gunmen in Bagrami district of Kabul. Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said the incident took place at 8:05am on Tuesday, in the Hussein Khel area of Bagrami district. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for this incident. The Kabul police spokesman said an investigation had been launched into the incident. A few days ago, a security force personnel was assassinated in the PD8 of Kabul.

    In other news, the closure of the Islam Qala, Abu Nasr Farahi, Ai-Khanoum, Sher Khan Bandar and Dand-e Patan crossings in Herat, Farah, Takhar, Kunduz, Kandahar and Paktia provinces has worried the government, the private sector and the people of the country. The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and representatives of the private sector have drawn up a plan in the latest action that provides alternative options for exporting and importing commercial goods.

    Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the ministries and the private sector had drawn up a plan and will submit it to the presidency soon. According to this plan, air corridors will be used for the export and import of commercial goods. Ahmadi added that they would also use strategic reserves. According to Akbar Rostami, spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, there are currently more than 75,000 tons of wheat in strategic reserves.

    “Coordination with the Ministries of Interior and Defense may soon launch a special operation to retake areas that threaten our imports and exports,” the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce added. Food and fuel hoarding by a number of profiteers is another problem that causes prices to rise in the market. Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi said that those who hoard food and fuel will be dealt with according to the law. “There is a consumer protection commission in the market, and those who hoard food and fuel are dealt with legally,” he said.

    Meanwhile, representatives of the private sector said at the meeting that they were reaching an agreement with the Taliban and importing their trade goods through these crossings. According to Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi, representatives of government departments have told them to refrain from exporting and importing through these ports until the Taliban’s threats are eliminated, so that their goods are not burnt in possible violence.

    On the other hand, acting Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal met with British Ambassador Laurie Bristow on Monday afternoon, to discuss comprehensive cooperation in counterterrorism issues. Mirzakwal appreciated UK’s assistance and cooperation and said that the ANDSF, especially ANP, are capable to protect and defend their homeland and will not allow any terrorist group to disrupt order. Bristow said that support and strengthening of the ANDSF is the only proper option to thwart any possible terrorist threats and his country is committed to supporting and cooperating with these forces, particularly the ANP.

    The British Ambassador also met Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and discussed strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation. Bristow emphasized on the importance of preserving joint achievements of the past two decades, particularly women’s and children’s rights, and the rights of the minorities, and freedom of speech, and assured Atmar of his country’s continued support to protect these achievements within the new chapter of relations between Afghanistan and the international community. Atmar appreciated UK’s cooperation and sacrifices made by British troops within NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Pointing to Taliban’s increase in violence, Atmar highlighted the important role of UK in strengthening regional and international consensus for the success of the peace process, and emphasized on international cooperation to strengthen and equip the ANDSF following the foreign troop withdrawal.

    Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab met with Deputy Tajik Foreign Minister Khusrav Noziri to discuss political and security developments, and bilateral relations. Nab welcomed Tajikistan’s active role in support of the Afghan peace process, warned that an increase in Taliban violence is not only a serious threat to Afghanistan, but also to the region, and stated that the ANDSF are fighting terrorism on the frontlines, despite logistical and equipment limitations. Nab added that combating terrorism requires additional cooperation and coordination from regional country, through multilateral mechanisms.

    Noziri described the current security situation in Afghanistan as worrying for Tajikistan and the region, and said that the killing of civilians and the current war in Afghanistan is against human rights laws and Islamic values. Both sides stressed that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which works to combat terrorism and extremism in the region, is a good mechanism to address the security situation in Afghanistan. They also discussed preparations and action plan for the 4th meeting of the Afghanistan-SCO Contact Group. Additionally, Nab met with Tajik Transport Minister Azim Ibrohim, and discussed bilateral economic-trade, and transport relations and emphasized on the development of trade volume of goods between the two countries. Both sides also exchanged views on the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, and stressed the need to start its work as soon as possible.

    Also, Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamid Tahzib, told Radio Azadi that the 4th Afghanistan-SCO Contact Group meeting will kick off in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Tuesday, to discuss Afghanistan’s full membership in the SCO, the organization’s cooperation with Afghanistan in the joint fight against terrorism and extremism, the current situation of Afghanistan and its impacts on the security and welfare of the region. Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar is expected to attend the two-day meeting.