Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that a number of districts are currently under economic siege by Taliban insurgents. A statement issued by the Commission on Sunday stated that people could not have access to basic necessities, food and services by blocking transportation routes.
The continuation of this situation is worrying and must end before it leads to a serious and pervasive humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, the statement said. It stated that using the economic blockade as a tactic of war is a denial of the right to life and liberty and is a crime.
The commission added that transportation routes should be opened as soon as possible so that people affected by the drought and the outbreak of the coronavirus can access basic goods and services.
Meanwhile, the Senate House has called on the security services to change their war strategy. Senators on Sunday, in a plenary session of the Senate after examining the situation in the country, stressed that the security agencies should change their approach to the war.
According to the Senate press office, the senators said that the security situation in Farah, Ghor, Helmand and the northern provinces was worrying, and that the approach of the security agencies to change the current situation should be changed.
The Senate added that military and professional cadres should be appointed to military posts without political interference or conflict of interest. “The Taliban’s crime has no borders and this group is attacking the great interests of the country in a certain scenario,” the Senate press office quoted the senators as saying.
Referring to the escalation of the war in the country, Senate chairman speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said that the revision of the war policies of the security forces is justified in the current situation. The senators pointed out that citizens no longer tolerate so much oppression, violence and massacre, and that saving the country from such a state of war requires a measured national solution and the nationwide resistance to domestic and foreign fighters.
The Speaker of the Senate stressed on the need for politicians to be united in the current context of the war and the outbreak of the third wave of the coronavirus. Muslimyar added that the government should do more to mobilize the elders and the people to support the system and the security forces.
Kabul: Security forces lost control of the Lash Wa Juwayn district following a large-scale attack by Taliban insurgents on Saturday night, said Shah Mahmood Naeemi, deputy head of the Farah provincial council.
He added that about 300 Taliban insurgents attacked the district in 80 vehicles. Naimi also said that the army base in the district had completely collapsed and that security forces had been fighting the Taliban in the district police headquarters until 10:30am on Sunday.
According to him, the connection with district police command has been cut off and it is likely to fall. The deputy head of the Farah provincial council said that about 110 government forces were stationed in the district.
He added that the Taliban had launched a large-scale offensive to seize Pashturud district last night, but had so far been unable to seize the district.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has said that in recent days a number of so-called “local influential leaders” have been mediating in some provinces to hand over security checkpoints to the Taliban.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian tweeted on Sunday, that it was “against military principles and rules” and that arrest warrants had been issued for such individuals. He added that several people had been arrested in connection with the cases.
“Anyone who commits such an act has already been ordered to be detained by the country’s security and defense forces,” he added.
On the other hand, local sources in Ghor province said that Saghar district of the province has fallen to Taliban insurgents without any clashes. Karamuddin Rezazada, a representative of the people of Ghor in the House of Representatives, said on Sunday that the district governor and police chief of Saghar district had left the district with all their equipment.
Rezazada added that they had retreated to the Tiwari district of Ghor. He also said that Taliban fighters had now entered government facilities in Saghar district and hoisted their flags over them.
Local officials have not yet commented on the matter. The Taliban, however, said its fighters now controlled the district buildings, the police headquarters and the national security department of Saghar district.
The group claims that 10 government troops and their equipment surrendered to the Taliban.
Kabul: The Taliban attacked a security outpost in Shulgara district in the northern province of Balkh and destroyed a small bridge, therefore cutting off access to the center of the district, security sources said on Sunday.
The clashes took place in the Khak Baad village of the district, the sources said.
Mohammad Haneef Rezaee, a spokesperson for 209 Shaheen Corps, said that “sometimes clashes occur in the area, but the destroyed bridge will not affect the supply of equipment and reinforcements as the outpost is close to the center of the district.” The Taliban has not yet commented on the clashes. Meanwhile, security sources said that the Taliban also clashed with security forces in Koshende district of the province. Local officials have not yet commented on the clashes in the district.
In fact, local sources in Helmand province said that eight policemen were killed and three others were wounded in an attack by Taliban insurgents in the province.
Atalullah Afghan, chairman of Helmand Provincial Council, said that the incident took place at 10am on Saturday in the area of the Qala-e-Bast. According to him, Taliban infiltrators fled to Taliban-held areas after attacking police officials.
Meanwhile, Helmand police spokesman Mohammad Zaman Hamdard said two policemen had been killed in clashes with Taliban in the area of the Qala-e-Bast.
On the other hand, even as security situation worsens in the country, Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a member of the House of Representatives, has said that the security plan to secure western Kabul has not been discussed so far.
Rahmani wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that last week, a detailed meeting was held at the Presidential Palace with officials from the Office of the National Security Council, the National Directorate of Security, the Ministry of Interior and Defense on the security situation in Afghanistan.
He added, “Zohra Nawrouzi, the representative of Kabul province, asked the National Security Adviser about the security plan and I felt that Mohib did not take responsibility for it. But Rafi Fazel, the Deputy National Security Advisor, said regarding VP Danesh’s security plan that it has not been discussed yet, because the president has said that he wants to personally review and evaluate the plan in a meeting.”
He said that given these remarks and all the daily killings and massacres of Hazara citizens, it is surprising that President Ghani has not even had a chance to consider VP Danesh’s security plan.
The member of the House of Representatives stressed that it was time for the people and citizens to set a deadline and if the government does not take action to secure western Kabul by that deadline, the people should not wait longer for the government and security agencies and start working on their own and implement and operate their own defense system.
Kabul: Mohammad Karim Khalili, former Vice-President and leader of People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, on Sunday said at a news conference in Kabul that the situation in the country is “very worrying and if we do not act well, we will be accountable to the next generation”.
Referring to the rising violence in the country, Khalili said that over the last twenty years, people have been martyred and killed in every corner of Afghanistan due to explosions and suicide attacks. “This is an argument that we do not object to and all the people have accepted it. But one side of the story is that Hazara people are deliberately massacred.”
“Lawyers better know that de-identification is genocide. Hazaras have been targeted over the past 20 years and there is no other justification than accepting that a genocide of the Hazaras is underway,” he said.
“We are protesting and this protest is not against any ethnic group and it must be stopped. I am glad that all over the world, the voices of different ethnic groups are now being heard about these killings. Hazaras are being massacred as a people,” he added.
He cited that the government has a responsibility according to the constitution that protects the lives, property and honor of the people. “The government should determine who is behind these incidents and killings. Hazaras want nothing more than for the government to do its job. I want the government to take the security of the people after this. The security of all citizens, especially the security of the Hazaras,” he said.
Khalili asked the government and the president to condemn the genocide of the Hazaras. “I call on all ethnic groups to take action against this genocide. I hope all the people of Afghanistan will join this petition,” he said.
This comes even as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing two minivans in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in the Afghan capital that killed seven people. Among the dead were two employees of Afghanistan’s state-run film company, AP said Sunday.
In a statement issued on late Saturday, Afghanistan’s IS affiliate said its operatives blew up two minivans carrying “disbeliever Shiites” using sticky bombs. Sticky bombs slapped onto cars trapped in Kabul’s chaotic traffic are the newest weapons terrorizing Afghans in the increasingly lawless nation.
Meanwhile, 181 Taliban fighters were killed and 102 others were wounded during clashes with the ANSDF across Laghman, Paktia, Maidan Wardak, Uruzgan, Nimroz, Badghis, Sar-e Pul and Helmand provinces, over the past 24hrs, according to the Ministry of Defense.
The ANSDF destroyed a huge amount of Taliban ammunition and weapons, detected and neutralized 27 improved explosive devices (IEDs), during the period.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 1597 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 85 deaths and 471 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stands at 91,458, while the number of reported deaths is 3,612. According to the statistics published daily by the Ministry of Health, the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in the country is increasing.
The Ministry of Health has asked citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Acting Public Health Minister Wahid Majroh met with Faryab, Farah, Zabul, Balkh, Khost, Parwan and Helmand provincial health officials, to discuss their problems. Majroh called for procurement and installation of one-two hemodialysis machines at all COVID-19 hospitals.
Majroh reported that the MoPH purchased 4,500 oxygen balloons from Iran, that will soon arrive in Afghanistan, and that a trader will import up to 300 oxygen balloons from Uzbekistan on a daily basis, to help the Ministry cope with oxygen shortages. Majroh urged regional zones to distribute medical necessities as necessary and in a fairly manner.
Majroh directed provincial health officials to seriously monitor the closure of educational facilities and other crowded places.
On the vaccine front, Majrooh said that the Chinese government-assisted vaccine packages have so far been transferred to 13 provinces and will soon be sent to other provinces.
Majrooh said that 700,000 doses of vaccine sent from China were enough for about 350,000 people. “Afghanistan currently needs 48 million doses of vaccine, and the government can afford to buy 42 million doses, and as soon as a reliable source of the vaccine is found, it will buy the vaccine,” he said. AAccording to Majrooh, COVAX has delivered 500,000 of the 16 million doses of vaccine promised to Afghanistan and is scheduled to deliver another 500,000 doses to Afghanistan by the end of July.
Majrooh said the government has sought diplomatic assistance from the United States, Canada, Denmark and Qatar to meet its health needs.
Majrooh added that beds, medical equipment and healthcare workers in 60 to 70 percent of Covid 19 hospitals had more than doubled. Referring to the challenge of oxygen supply, he said that the Ministry of Health had installed oxygen generators in the last two weeks at four Covid-19 special hospitals in Kabul and is currently using them.
Majrooh, noting that oxygen generators have already been activated in several provinces, expressed hope that the 10 oxygen generators recently transferred to Kabul by UNICEF will soon be transferred from the institute to the 10 provinces.
Neighboring countries, including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, have expressed readiness to provide Afghanistan with 300 to 500 oxygen balloons a day, the acting health minister said. “At least 4,500 oxygen balloons have been purchased from Iran, and the country also sends two liquid oxygen tankers to Herat every week,” he added.
Kabul: Kunduz police spokesperson Enamauddin Rahmani has denied allegations that Taliban fighters stormed a market in the Ali Abad district of the province. Rahmani said that there is currently intense fighting ongoing between security and defense forces and Taliban fighters around the Ali Abad district bazaar.
“The market in the district has not fallen yet,” he added. Security forces are fighting Taliban insurgents.
According to Rahmani, Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties during the clashes. Earlier, Kunduz Provincial Council Chairman Mohammad Yusuf Ayoubi had announced the fall of the Ali Abad district market in the province to the Taliban. According to him, due to the lack of reinforcements, control of the market in Ali Abad district had fallen into the hands of Taliban fighters.
Meanwhile, the Kunduz police have confirmed that a number of detainees in Kunduz prison have revolted. Kunduz police spokesman Enamullah Rahmani said that the riot took place at 7:00pm on Saturday, and has now been contained by security forces.
According to Rahmani, the prisoners set fire to a block in which they lived. Rahmani said that it was not yet clear whether anyone had been killed in the incident.
The Kunduz police spokesperson did not provide a reason for the riot at the provincial prison, but said an investigation is underway.
Kabul: General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the CENTCOM commander, in an interview with the Military Times, said that the US will continue to support the Afghan security forces and will keep on putting pressure on the adversaries to ensure that they do not attack US from the region.
For the past 20 years, US Central Command has been the busiest of the US military’s geographically arrayed headquarters, but even with the end of the American commitment of troops on the ground in Afghanistan, a reduced presence in Iraq and an overall US shift to countering China and Russia, CENTCOM oversees a restive region that will continue to warrant attention.
On realistic threats emanating from Afghanistan after withdrawal, MzKenzie said that there is a high degree of certainty that Al-Qaeda and IS-K, both have aspirations to attack the United States. “We believe that what has prevented these attacks from being developed from Afghanistan is the pressure that’s been put on these groups. So, what would concern me the most in the long term would be a future situation in Afghanistan where there wasn’t adequate pressure kept on these groups. Then, they would certainly rebuild, restrengthen themselves, and attack us in our homeland,” he added.
On the future, McKenzie said that the US still intends to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. “We’re still going to support them with funding. We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon and we will do some televised remote advising with them as we go forward. We will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Taliban again reiterated on Saturday that it would be “unacceptable” to them and a “mistake” on the part of any nation to retain a military presence in Afghanistan to guard airports or other installations after the departure of US-led NATO troops from the warn-torn country.
The Taliban vowed to resist deployment of any foreign military in the country after all international forces leave. “The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for us,” the insurgent group said.
The Taliban insisted that security of airports, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.
“If anyone does make such a mistake, the Afghan people and the Taliban shall view them as occupiers and shall take a stance against them as they have taken against invaders throughout history,” the statement said.
Stoltenberg said the security of the Kabul airport and other “critical” infrastructure” would be discussed at Monday’s NATO summit in Brussels. “Because this is important not only for NATO but … for the whole international community, for a diplomatic presence of all countries, and of course, also for development aid and different aid organizations. So, NATO allies are addressing these issues as we speak,” he said.
Kabul: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday met Jean Arnault, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues to discuss the Afghan peace process and regional cooperation in support of the process.
The office of former president added in a statement that UN Secretary-General’s representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons was also present in the meeting.
Karzai welcomed the appointment of Arnault as United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues, calling him a skillful diplomat and hoped that his efforts play effective role in the peace process.
Meanwhile, Dawa Khan Meenapal, head of the Government’s Media and Information Center, said that Afghanistan will not achieve peace as long as the Taliban enjoy support in Pakistan.
“All terrorist groups, including the Taliban, are being supported in Pakistan. As long as there is support for terrorist groups in Pakistan, it is impossible to reach lasting peace,” Meenapal said. “That is why relations between Taliban and Pakistan should be defined and it should end so that the region achieves stability and Afghanistan achieves lasting peace.”
Pakistan, which helped facilitate US-Taliban negotiations in Doha that resulted in troop withdrawal deal, wields considerable influence with the Taliban.
Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan have increased recently as Pakistan officials have said that they stopped with contacts with Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib over his remarks against Pakistan.
Kabul: A Greek court on Saturday sentenced four young Afghan asylum seekers accused of starting fires that burnt down Europe’s largest migrant camp last year to 10 years in prison each.
Defense lawyers said that the court found them guilty of intentional arson. The court in Chios found the defendants guilty of arson while their lawyers denounced a “lack of sense of fairness”. No one died in the fires.
The lawyers told AFP they had immediately filed for an appeal after the sentence was handed down. The young Afghans were taken to the court, handcuffed and were expected to return to the Avlona jail outside Athens, where they were held before the trial.
In March, two other Afghan youths were detained at the same facility for five years in connection with the case. The Moria camp on the Aegean Island of Lesbos housed more than 10,000 people before it was destroyed by two fires in September 2020.
Media were not allowed inside the courtroom at the end of the trial owing to coronavirus precautions. Around 20 people, mainly members of foreign solidarity groups, gathered outside the court meanwhile to call for the defendants to be freed.
Defense lawyers said the Afghans did not get a fair trial.