Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Over 1,560 square kilometers of Afghanistan territory is laced with landmines, said State Minister for Disaster Management Ghulam Bahauddin Jailani.
The State Ministry for Disaster Management Authority said in a press release on Thursday that Jilani had raised the issue in a video conference with the Senior Representative of the German Embassy in Afghanistan; Head of the United Nations Office for Mine Action in Afghanistan; the donor of the demining program and the officials of this ministry.
According to the statement, he said that since 1990, 3,200 square kilometers of fields have been cleared of mines, but there are still 1,565 square kilometers of areas contaminated with mines. The Minister of State for Disaster Management added that during the clearing of such areas, more than 20 million mines and unexploded ordnance were discovered and destroyed.
Meanwhile, he said that during 2020, an average of 115 civilians were killed and injured by landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices.
Jailani explained that 63% of them were killed or wounded as a result of the explosion of improvised explosive devices and 36% as a result of the explosion of explosives left over from the war. He stressed that 47% of the victims were children.
He added that Afghanistan still needs the continued assistance of the international community in the field of demining. He stressed that mine clearance paves the way for progress, development and reconstruction.
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations Mine Action Service in Afghanistan has said that the organization is committed to its mine clearance commitments in Afghanistan. The US embassy in Kabul has also said that US spends more than $20 million a year on demining in Afghanistan.
Kabul: Mohammad Younes Qanoni, a member of the leadership committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) and a former vice-president, has said that internal divisions in the current government are leading the system to collapse.
Qanoni said that the rifts are deep and the regime would collapse before it was overthrown by “outside agents”.
He was speaking at at the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Mohammad Daud Daud and Shah Jahan Nouri in Kabul. According to him, the differences between the government and political figures and the government and the people have already reached their peak.
He added that these disputes in the “republican sphere” have given the Taliban hope that the Afghan issue will be resolved militarily in their favor after the withdrawal of foreign forces. “Before reaching a peaceful settlement with the opposition (Taliban), peace inside our house is our need and urgency,” he stressed.
As per him, victory in the peace process is not possible unless the gap between the government and the nation is removed and unity is established within the government. He said the government belongs to all the people of Afghanistan and no one should be allowed to overthrow the regime.
Addressing the leadership of the government, he also said, “Let us not allow a situation to arise in Afghanistan that neither you, respected government officials, nor politicians outside the system can control. You have the power to lead the people to reform and will.”
He stressed that the will of the people should be respected by the leadership of the government, and that fundamental reforms should be implemented in the government and that “popular changes” should take place.
He urged the people not to worry about the situation in the country, but to follow the issues carefully. Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, said it was time for people to understand the current situation and realities in the country.
Abdullah added that foreign forces were leaving the country and that the government now needed to use tactics, tactics, resistance, democracy and courage to successfully pass the test. He further stressed that personal issues need to be put aside and measures taken to get out of the current situation.
On the other hand, Abdullah Abdullah said in part that although peace talks have begun, “Afghanistan is as far from peace as ever.”
He described the issue as “a major challenge” and said that despite that, peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were ongoing and had not yet been completed.
Referring to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, Abdullah said that the withdrawal of these forces may affect the situation in Afghanistan. He stressed, however, that the withdrawal of these forces would be different from the former Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Abdullah explained that at that time Afghanistan was left alone and completely isolated.
The remarks come as a number of members of the Afghan government’s peace negotiating team left for Doha, the capital of Qatar, after weeks of deadlocks in yesterday’s inter-Afghan talks. The Ministry of Peace has previously said that talks with the Taliban will resume where they left off.
Kabul: Lali, the police chief of Gizab district of Uruzgan province, on Wednesday announced that after a Taliban attack, all parts of the district but except the Police HQ have been fallen to the Taliban.
“The Taliban have taken over the buildings of the district, and the only police headquarters’ building is under government control, and all other surrounding areas, including the bazaar, have been taken over by the Taliban,” he told RFE / RL on Wednesday.
According to him, they already knew about the Taliban offensive plan, but despite informing the relevant departments in Kabul and the provincial capital, they did not receive any help. The police chief of Gizab district said that if additional forces do not arrive, the district could fall completely to the Taliban.
Security officials in central Uruzgan have not yet commented on the incident, nor has the Taliban commented on the matter.
Kabul: Mullah Abdul Rahman, the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Ghormach district, was killed in an airstrike on Thursday, said Badghis Governor Hesamuddin Shams.
Shams added that in addition to Rahman, four other Taliban insurgents had been killed in the attack.
According to him, the killing of the Taliban-shadow district governor for Ghormach will improve the security situation in Badghis. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.
Kabul: Masoom Stanekzai, the head of the government’s negotiating team, said on Thursday during a meeting with EU Special Representative Thomas Nicholson, that the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is fully prepared to resume peace talks.
Stanekzai empahsized that the Taliban must also show their will for peace to the Afghan people. The Ministry of State for Peace Affairs announced in a statement on Thursday that the two sides discussed the current situation in the country, the escalation of violence and the need for peace and a ceasefire.
Calling the current war in the country illegitimate, the head of the government’s negotiating team said that establishing peace and security is one of the priorities of the people and the government with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Stanekzai noted that strengthening national and international consensus is essential for success in the peace process.
“Currently, a number of members of the negotiating team are in Qatar to advance the talks, and other members of the delegation will leave for Qatar in the near future,” he added.
On the other hand, Thomas Nicholson, the EU Special Representative, said that the EU supports the role of different sections of society, especially women and youth, in the peace process. He also called for greater speed and dynamism in the peace process and expressed concern about the continuing war and escalating violence in Afghanistan.
Nicholson emphasized that “achieving tangible results in these negotiations will have a positive impact on strengthening and continuing the Union’s cooperation in Afghanistan.
Kabul: The National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced on Thursday that it has thwarted a Taliban attack on government facilities in Herat by arresting its masterminds.
The Herat National Directorate of Security also said that it had arrested a group of six people on suspicion of carrying out terrorist activities in different parts of the province.
Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali said that the members of the group had been arrested in different parts of the city and districts of the province and had confessed to committing various crimes. He stressed that security forces were trying to apprehend other members of the terrorist network operating outside Herat province.
According to the Herat governor, two of the detainees were members of the group led by Maulvi Karim “responsible for Taliban attacks.” The group led by Karim is accused by security forces of carrying out various attacks in Herat. The attack on the US consulate in Herat province, the assassination of government employees, the insecurity of highways and the hostage-taking of citizens are some of the activities of the said group.
The six-member group has also been trying to attack a number of military bases, including the Herat General Directorate of National Security and other security agencies, which has been thwarted by national security forces.
In addition to the group’s arrest, a number of bombs and powerful explosives with weapons and ammunition fell into the hands of security forces, and some of the explosives outside the city were detonated by security forces.
Kabul: The Acting Minister of Public Health, Vahid Majrooh, on Wednesday, stated that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the country has become a serious crisis, not because the Ministry of Health had problems with the health staff or hospitals, but because the challenge now is the lack of oxygen devices for patients.
“We do not have a problem in terms of skills, personnel, coordination and administrative and political support of the government and partner agencies. Our only problem is the lack of oxygen,” said Majrooh.
“There are currently two hospitals in Kabul with all the medical equipment for coronavirus patients; however, there is not oxygen. We have seven oxygen factories in Kabul; but because of the great need, they cannot fulfill the commitment,” he added.
According to the Minister of Health, oxygen is saved in public hospitals, while in the private sector, oxygen is wasted in large quantities because patients pay, and even in some cases a patient can use three sets of oxygen at the same time. “I hope that the media conveys the deterioration of the issue to the people,” said Vahid Majrooh, while criticizing the people’s inattention to non-compliance with health orders.
He emphasized that if the people continue to ignore the health recommendations of the Ministry of Health, not wearing a mask and not observing social distances, there will be a deadly crisis that the Ministry of Health will not be able to solve.
“We will not die in two weeks at home,” he said, however, “two days of carelessness can lead us to death,” he added.
“Our capacity is limited, we cannot provide oxygen supply for all Afghan citizens. Our expectation is that you do not let us see your suffering, tears, sorrow and misery under a ventilator mask,” he said.
In recent weeks, however, the number of people infected with the coronavirus has risen sharply in the country. According to statistics published by the Ministry of Health on Thursday 1,509 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported, of 4,392 samples tested during the last 24 hours.
The MoPH also reported 34 deaths and 107 recoveries from the virus during the period. The total number of cases now stand at 76,653, while the total reported deaths are 3,068.
Kabul: Panjshir became the first province in the country to close its gateways to national and foreign tourists to prevent further spread of the third wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mansour Anabi, spokesperson for the governor of Panjshir, said that the provincial military council made the decision on Wednesday. Shir Del Danesh, head of the Public Health Department in Panjshir province, said that for the past three days, patients infected with the coronavirus in the province have been facing lack of oxygen and efforts are being made to provide oxygen to the patients.
According to Danesh, the responsibility for providing services in the coronavirus sector in Panjshir province has been handed over to the Swedish Committee, and from this point of view, the provincial public health department does not face a shortage of medical equipment, personnel and medicine.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kabul has issued a health alert for all of Afghanistan. “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice and the Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory advising against all travel to Kabul due COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict. Commercial flight options from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) remain available and the US Embassy strongly suggests that U.S. citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited,” the statement said.
The US embassy also alleged that hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients and US citizens have reported being denied admittance to hospitals due to lack of space.
Kabul: The European Union (EU) Political Representative in Kabul on Thursday tweeted that the killing of Hazaras in Afghanistan must be stopped and crimes against the ethnic group must be investigated
The union’s political office’s statement comes at a time when Thomas Nicholson, the EU Special Representative for Afghanistan, had met with female students at the Sayyid al-Shuhada School, which was attacked on May 8.
The European Union’s political mission in Kabul quoted students who survived the attack as saying that they would not stop and would continue on their way to success. The attack on the Sayyid al-Shuhada school killed over 90 people – mostly female students – and more than 100 were injured.
The families of the victims of the attack also called for the attack to be recognized as an example of genocide by the Afghan government and the international community. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called the attack a war crime and crimes against humanity and said the killings and other violence in Afghanistan should be investigated by a team of experts and independent of UN investigators. The commission called on the United Nations to “immediately” announce its commitment to identifying the perpetrators of the crime and to publish its report within two months.
Kabul: The third general conference of PAECO will be organized in Kabul in 2022 as per unanimous decision of member nations. The heads (Speakers/Chairpersons/Presidents) of PAECO met in Islamabad for the second general conference and underscored the importance of PAECO at promoting socio-economic development of member states.
The two-day conference also appreciated the collaboration of Member Parliaments in advancing regional cooperation for the benefit of the people. It welcomed the entry into force of PAECO charter after ratification by Azerbaijan and adoption of PAECO’s rules of business by the Executive Council in accordance with article 5b (iv).
The declaration urged remaining member states to ratify PAECO’s charter and also underlined the significance of PAECO in exploiting the potential of Parliamentary diplomacy to bring about regional connectivity and economic integration in the ECO region.
Kabul: One child was killed and nine others were injured in an explosion on Wednesday evening in Asadabad, center of Kunar province, said Ataullah Safi, director of Asadabad Central Hospital.
Safi added that the condition of three among the injured was critical. “Nine injured people have been brought to the provincial hospital in Asadabad, including four children and the rest are adults. The condition of three of them is not good, so it has been decided that they will be sent to the Nangarhar district hospital,” Atai added.
Some sources say a magnetic mine attached to a military vehicle exploded. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s annual report to US Congress on civilian deaths and injuries resulting from US military actions around the world has declared more than 100 recent casualties which includes 23 civilians killed and 10 more injured in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.
While the Pentagon reports only 20 deaths and 5 injuries from its own actions last year, UNAMA – the UN agency in Afghanistan – says that international forces killed at least 89 civilians and injured a further 31.
Kabul: At a time when the withdrawal of troops is almost 30-44 percent complete, the Pentagon is still developing plans to evacuate Afghans whose lives would be in danger from the Taliban, but there’s still no order from the White House to move anyone, yet. The situation is the same in Germany wherein the Germany’s Foreign Office and Interior Ministry do not want to extend rules regarding protection against threats to local staff in Afghanistan beyond the current two-year time limit. However, spokespersons for both ministries made it clear on Wednesday that decisions would be made quickly and expeditiously on cases involving local Bundeswehr employees who have asserted threats within the applicable period of the past two years.
In the US, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tasked the head of US Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, to develop options for those Afghans that includes the possibility of evacuating them, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Wednesday. However, the White House has not directed the Pentagon to execute those plans yet.
“We aren’t at a stage right now where evacuation is being actively pursued,” Kirby said. Afghan translators who helped US troops during the past two decades of war face potential retaliation from the Taliban once United States and coalition forces withdraw this year.
Advocates for those Afghans say it is too late to fix the Special Immigrant Visa program, which was established in 2009 to protect interpreters, their families and other Afghans who have assisted the US government since forces began operating there. Instead, they argue it’s long past time to evacuate them to a safe location where their visas can be processed. The State Department, which runs the visa program, could not immediately say how many Afghans had applied.
Kirby said expanding the program would require action from lawmakers. “There will be a need to get Congressional support to expand that program to allow for more Afghans to apply through it,” Kirby said. Advocates for the interpreters argue the best option now is Guam. The island is a US territory, so the government will not need to negotiate with other nations to send evacuees there. Also, Guam was used to stage Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1975 while their visas were processed. In 1996, Guam also served as a temporary haven for Kurds who had worked with US aid groups in Northern Iraq.
Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said this week that she would support bringing Afghan interpreters to the island while their visas are being processed, but added that she has not heard from the administration about the plan. “We are a people that protect our freedom, protect our island, protect our nation. And certainly, we will be there to support whatever the military’s decision is. I know that we will be working very closely once we get the official word to move forward,” she said during a Memorial Day event on Monday.
Meanwhile, in Germany, there are no plans to bring any fundamental changes to their already existing procedure as per a spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry.
Hundreds of Afghans who had worked for the German army, from translators to kitchen staff, now fear acts of revenge from the militants as international troops pull out of the country and are seeking safety in Germany. The federal government agrees that “we have an obligation to these people who have been working side by side with our soldiers,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Wednesday.
The German Defence Ministry has been pushing to examine cases of local staff who left more than two years ago. Afghan experts have been calling for charter flights to be organized as the weeks until the total withdrawal draws closer.
The German government said weeks ago it had streamlined and accelerated the application process for those looking to get to Germany.
The fear comes even as guards who were stationed outside the now-closed Australian embassy faced open threats from the Taliban last week.
Kabul: Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad Kababiani, deputy head of the Ulema Council and clerics in the western zone of the country, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Herat province on Thursday morning, said Abdul Khaliq Haqqani, head of the Herat Hajj and Endowments department.
Haqqani added that Kababiani was attacked near his home in the village of Kababian in the Injil district of the province. He was initially injured, but died on the way to the hospital.
The armed assailants were on a motorcycle and shot at Kababiani after his morning prayers near his house.
Aref Jalali, the chief physician of the Herat District Hospital, said that Kababiani’s body had now been transferred to the hospital.
Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad Kababiani was one of the moderate scholars in the west of the country. He always called on the people to refrain from violence and to work for peace.
So far, no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the assassination of this religious scholar.