Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghan officials confirmed that at least nine security forces were killed and seven more were wounded during the Taliban’s attacks in two northern provinces of the country on Friday night.
The Shahin 209 Corps in a statement said that the Taliban militants stormed “Lab-e Nahr” outpost in Chamtal district of Balkh province late last night.
According to the statement, seven security forces were killed and four others were wounded in the attack.
The statement added that Mawlavi Bilal, the deputy of the group’s shadow district governor for Charbolak district was killed along with four of his men and six of them were wounded in the clashes.
In the meantime, the Police spokesman of Baghlan province, Ahmad Jawid Besharat also said that Taliban launched attacks from different fronts on the Chakari base on Pul-e Khomri-Samangan highway last night.
According to Besharat, the Taliban attacks were thwarted by security forces and at least four Taliban insurgents including a key commander were killed and three more were wounded in the clashes.
He added that at least two security forces were killed and three more were wounded in the attacks.
This comes as the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is now in Doha and has recently met with Taliban leaders for the peace talks and reduction of violence in the country.
Three days passed since the killing of seven workers at a factory of making building supplies in Surkhrod district of Nangarhar province.
Tosay, a number of Bamyan residents staged a protest in front of the office of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, calling for an immediate and fair investigation into the Nangarhar incident.
The protesters demanded identifying local and security officials in Nangarhar province, especially the officials of Sorkhrud district, due to their negligence and carelessness in ensuring the security of citizens.
Protesters in a declaration also called on the international community and the United Nations not to simply ignore the killing of workers and to press Afghan government officials to respond in a democratic and legitimate manner.
The declaration states that the government’s “discriminatory” behavior has led the country to a deadlock.
They have also warned that they will continue protest until their demands are met and that they will use all the capacities that the law permitted.
The protest came after seven factory workers, residents of Bamyan province, were killed by unknown individuals in the Sorukh Rud district of Nangarhar province last week on Thursday.
An initial report indicated the arrest of four suspects in connection with the incident.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says there have been serious complaints about police actions in the Jabriel township of Herat province, killing and injuring civilians.
AIHRC in a statement on Saturday said that the improper use of force by the police was a matter of concern.
The rights body called on the security institutions to adhere to the police law in dealing with defendants, public law, human rights and citizens, with the aim of protecting their lives, property and public interests, and to be accountable for their actions.
The commission also called for a thorough and results-based investigation by the authorities responsible for the incident and for the victims, compensated for the damage done to the people and a guarantee by the government to protect the lives and property of civilians in such operations.
Last Wednesday, security forces launched an operation to arrest Habibaullah Ghoriani, a local powerful in Jabriel area of Herat.
The operation was led by the Herat’s Governor Sayyed Vahid Qatali.
As a result of this operation, 2 people were killed, 39 people were injured and more than 20 others were arrested. Most of the victims were civilians.
The Herat local government has accused Habibaullah Ghoriani and his men of beating several citizens of Herat and injuring two people in recent days.
The Herat local administration has also accused Mr. Ghoriani of having irresponsible gunmen and involving in drug-trafficking.
US Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller on Friday marked 915 days as head of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, making him the longest-serving commander of America’s longest war, the Stars and Stripes reported.
“The world recognizes we cannot fail,” Miller said when he was sworn in as the 17th commander overseeing the U.S. and NATO mission on Sept. 2, 2018, taking over from Gen. John Nicholson, who was at the helm for 914 days.
Since then, Miller, who turns 60 in May, played a key role in a historic deal with the Taliban and has overseen a U.S. drawdown amid rising violence among Afghans.
The former leader of Joint Special Operations Command has mostly remained out of the public eye during his time in Afghanistan. But within weeks of assuming command, he made headlines when he escaped an attack in Kandahar that killed provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq and wounded several others, including Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
One of Miller’s tasks during his tenure has been to maintain the Afghan government’s trust in the United States. That was shaken early when the Trump administration excluded Kabul from talks with the Taliban, which began in late 2018 – around the same time then-President Donald Trump announced plans to slash the number of U.S. troops fighting overseas, including in Afghanistan.
India has reaffirmed its strong commitment to work together with all regional stakeholders to enhance connectivity in the region and to provide unhindered access to the sea to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries through the Chabahar Port.
“The Chabahar Port has not only emerged as a commercial transit hub for the region but also facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially during the pandemic. The port is part of our shared commitment towards peace, stability and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan,” external affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.
He was addressing the ‘Chabahar Day’ celebration yesterday hosted by India on the margins of the ‘Maritime India Summit’ to showcase the business potential of the strategic port located in Iran.
Senior ministers from Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan virtually participated in it.
An online conference is planned to be held on opportunities and strategies for trade between Afghanistan and Iran on Monday, the portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) published.
As per Tehran Times report, the online event will be attended by Hossein Salimi, the chairman of Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce.
In this conference, the security and political situation of Afghanistan and the perspective of economic and political relations between the two countries, trade opportunities and goods and services needs of Afghanistan, investment opportunities in Afghanistan, how to participate in the Afghan market, Afghanistan and Iran credit lines and financial transfer will be reviewed.
Back in January, the director general of the Asia-Pacific Office of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) had said that a preferential trade agreement with Afghanistan was going to be signed in the near future.
Local officials say a fire broke out at Abu Nasr Farahi customs in the Farah province on the border with Iran and has not yet been contained.
The provincial governor Taj Mohammad Safi said that at least four fuel trucks have been damaged and efforts have started to extinguish the fire.
Traders say one of the traders ‘oil tankers caught fire and two of the traders’ oil tankers have been burnt so far.
Farah Governor described the blaze as “severe” and said there were no facilities to contain it in the port of Abu Nasr Farahi.
According to the governor, they are trying to ask Iran for help in controlling the fire. He did not elaborate.
Pictures posted on social media show that the fire is widespread in the port of Abu Nasr Farahi.
This is the second fire in Farah customs in the last two weeks.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 7 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry said no deaths and 4 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,847 the number of total reported deaths is 2,449 and the total number of recoveries is 49,369.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Helmand and daykundi.
President Ashraf Ghani says peace is a top priority for the Afghan government and the tranfer of power will happen through elections as a non-negotiable principle for his government.
Addressing a ceremony on the inauguration of the third year of the 17th legislative term of the National Assembly on Saturday, President Ghani said, “Achieving lasting peace is not only a desire for us, but also a sacred goal. While the international declarations and the constitution guarantee the individual rights of citizens, the people have been deprived of their rights to a peaceful life for forty-two years.”
According to him, no decision on the fate of Afghanistan will be made without constant consultation, direct intervention and approval of all sections of the Afghan people.
Mr. Ghani said achieving a lasting peace is possible; But a peace that puts an end to violence and brings political, economic and social stability requires commitment and sacrifice.
“Mismanagement of the peace process is dangerous,” he added. “Each step must be managed; Otherwise, not only we will not achieve peace, but there will also be the danger of system’s collapse.”
President stated that he is willing to sacrifice to make peace; But sacrifice is not about people’s bloodshed and going beyond the constitution.
“I advise those who are seeking power that Afghanistan has one gate and one key, and only the people can open this gate to you by voting,” he added.
President Ghani called on the Taliban to prove their peaceful intentions in practice, to stand by their commitments, and to reach a positive conclusion at the negotiating table.
The speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Mir Rahman Rahmani called on the Taliban to end the violence as soon as possible and resume the peace talks.
“The House of Representatives calls for an immediate reduction of violence and a ceasefire in the country,” said Mr. Rahmani, speaking at the opening ceremony of the third year of the 17th legislative term of the National Assembly on Saturday.
He said the Taliban should show resilience and return to peace talks.
“We urge the Taliban leaders to show restraint so that in the future they will be remembered as peacemakers,” Mr Rahmani added.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives emphasized that the National Assembly stands firmly by the side of the current system and in support of the Republic and the people.
In another part of his speech, Mr. Rahmani called on the Government of Afghanistan to respect the approvals and decisions of the House of Representatives and to end the practice of acting ministers and independent government departments with the beginning of the new legislative year of the National Assembly.
At the opening ceremony of the third year of the 17th legislative term of the National Assembly, President Ghani said that peace is one of the priorities of the Afghan government; But it should not be dealt with hastily.
Muhammad Yasin Khan, the former governor of Helmand province says at least three people, including Sayed Mahmood Agha Sadat, in charge of NDS prosecutors’ office in Helmand, were killed in a blast near the provincial police headquarters in Lashkargah city on Saturday morning.
According to Yasin Khan, two of his security guards were also killed in the blast.
He added that a number of civilians were also wounded in the incident, which the exact figure is not clear.
The local officials in Helmand have not commented on the incident so far.
The Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar has met with Deborah Lyons, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) in a statement said that the two sides discussed the Afghan peace process, emphasizing the constructive role of the United Nations in strengthening and facilitating peace talks.
According to the statement, Ms. Lyons stressed the role of countries in the region and the international community in ensuring a lasting peace in Afghanistan, and reaffirmed the United Nations’ continued efforts to expand regional and global consensus.
In the meantime, the two sides also called the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2513 important for reducing violence, securing ceasefires, non-use of Afghan territory by terrorists, pursuing meaningful negotiations, achieving a peaceful solution and ensuring a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has said it will more than double the number of female officers in its police force by 2024, according to Reuters report.
Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi said Afghanistan needed more female police to address the needs of women and girls, as he pledged to increase the number of women in the force to 10,000.
The announcement came against a surge of targeted attacks on officials and prominent women around the country as the government negotiates a power-sharing deal with the Taliban.
A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has died in Afghanistan, the government of Canada said in a statement.
The Canadian Defence Department says Master Warrant Officer Guy Adam Law was found dead in his quarters at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul on Feb. 25.
The statement said the cause of death is under investigation and is being assessed as “non-operational.”
Law was originally from Saskatoon and had been working at the Embassy since last August as a facility operations and maintenance officer.
He had joined the Armed Forces in 1991 and had deployed on four operational tours.
The Canadian Defence Department says his body will return to Canada on March 7.
“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones of Master Warrant Officer Law, and our focus remains on providing them support during this difficult time,” the statement said.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is a family and it is heartbreaking when we lose one of our own. We stand together, we grieve together, and we will always remember them,” it added.