Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghan National Directorate of Security has busted 10 Chinese citizens over espionage, these detainees are linked to a Chinese spy agency, Hindustan Times reported.
These Chinese spy agency members were caught for operating a terror cell in the capital of Kabul city, this crackdown turned a huge embarrassment for Beijing, as the Chinese government demanded to put the matter at rest, diplomats and security officials told the Hindustan Times.
The crackdown had started on December 10th and 10 Chinese citizens were captured by the NDS, these individuals were linked to running a terror cell, espionage, and served China’s spy agency.
Chinese spy activities in Afghanistan were the first-ever recorded, it is the first time Afghanistan has detained Chinese spy operators.
Two of these captured Chinese nationals were in direct contact with the Haqqani Network, a senior diplomat told Hindustan times.
Li Yangyang and Sha Hung, two Chinese spy operatives were in contact with Haqqani Network to gather information about Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and Uyghurs in Kunar and Badakhshan provinces, Eursian Times said in a report.
Li was arrested in his home in the western part of Kabul in Kart-e-Chahar, he was operating for the Chinese intelligence since July-August.
Eurasia indicated that Sha Hung was also running a restaurant in the Shirpur area of Kabul city.
Hindustan Times said President Ashraf Ghani was briefed in regards to the detentions, and the First Vice President, Amrullah Saleh, was given the authority to oversee the investigation.
Chinese ambassador to Kabul, Wang Yu was asked to be briefed on the detentions, Afghan government demanded a formal apology that admits to the violation of international norms.
The detainees will be pardoned upon the formal apologies otherwise, Saleh has told the Chinese envoy that the government will go “ahead with criminal proceedings”. Hindustan Times reported.
Afghan NDS seized arms, ammunition, and Ketamine powder a recreational drug during the first round of raids on December 10.
Sha Hung was also arrested on the same day, a security official told Hindustan Times, that NDS “recovered explosive material and other incriminating items” from her place, and other eight Chinese nationals were detained subsequently.
The Chinese spies were planning to create a fake East Turkestan Islamic Movement ETIM module in Afghanistan to entrap ETIM operatives in the country and Pakistan’s ISI worked closely with them to target Uighur leaders in Afghanistan.
Imports of top five smuggling-prone items under the Afghan transit trade (ATT) have dropped by more than half in the current fiscal year, which increased tax collection besides protecting domestic industries from the injurious effects of illegal trade, the Tribune reported.
Imports of black and green tea, tyres, textile and electronic goods under ATT fell by Rs86 billion or 51% during first five months of the current fiscal year, according to a presentation recently given to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
During July-November 2020, Afghanistan imported Rs82.5 billion worth of five types of goods as against Rs168 billion in the same period of last year. Stringent enforcement measures played a role in reducing the smuggling of these items from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
However, it was not clear how much of the reduction was on account of exchange rate depreciation as the value was given in rupee terms.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says the repeated attacks on media, civil and human rights activists are of grave concern and have challenged the hope for the success of the peace process and confidence in the effectiveness of responsible government institutions.
AIHRC in a series of tweets said, “In one of those criminal and inhumane attacks, Fereshteh Kouhestani, a civil and women’s rights activist, and her brother were killed.”
The Human Rights Commission strongly condemned these attacks and reiterates its call on the government to investigate and bring justice to the victims and calls on the United Nations and the international community to support the Afghan people in these difficult times and to call for an end to the violence and a ceasefire in the country.
This comes as recently the targeted killings and assassinations have increased in the country, particularly in the capital, Kabul.
President Ashraf Ghani has instructed the relevant authorities to identify and punish the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks on political, civil, social activists and other civilian.
According to a statement issued by the Presidential Palace on Saturday, Mr. Ghani instructed the security and defense institutions in order to better ensure the security of Afghan activists.
Recently, targeted attacks and assassinations of journalists, civil society and political activists have increased.
In the latest case, women’s rights activist Fereshteh Kohistani and her brother have been assassinated by unknown individuals in the Hesa-e Awal Kohistan district of Kapisa province.
The assassinations of journalists and civil society activists have provoked a wave of criticisms from social media users.
Afghan security officials in Balkh province have confirmed that the garrison commander of army’s third brigade has been killed in an IED explosion in Sholgra district.
Police in Sholgra district said that Muhammad Tariq, the garrison commander was killed in a mine explosion in Bodana Qala village and two more soldiers were wounded.
Based on Police information, the incident took place on Friday night when a clash erupted between the security forces and Taliban militants.
Police added that at least nine members of Taliban were killed and seven more were wounded in government’s air forces airstrikes in the same district.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 83 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 978 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 10 deaths and 148 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 51,847 the number of total reported deaths is 2,158 and the total number of recoveries is 41,012.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Takhar, Paktia, Baghlan, Parwan, Nimroz, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Logar, Helmand, Kapisa, Khost, Uruzgan, Paktia, and Faryab.
Following the increase of explosions in Kabul, the first Vice-President Amrullah Saleh says there are good news for the nation and shocking consequences for enemies on the way.
Mr. Saleh said on Saturday that the 6am meetings will continue with better focus, more facilities and broader competence.
Saleh noted that from now on, as in the past two months, he will not publish the details of the decisions of these meetings, but the focus will be on internal evaluation and achieving tangible and presentable results to the nation.
He said that the 62nd morning meeting will be held tomorrow and asked the citizens to comment if they want to play a role in determining the agenda and topics of these sessions, and all those who comments on Facebook will be considered.
The First Vice President added: “This war has been waged against all the spiritual and material resources of the Afghan people. Security forces are on the line, but your individual soft involvement can help change the situation.”
Saleh stressed that the non-confidential sections will share their assessments soon after completion.
“Be assured that good news for the nation and shocking news for the enemies are on the way,” he added.
Kabul on Saturday morning witnessed four explosions in less than three hours, in which two people were killed and at least six others, including a civilian, were wounded.
The first explosion took place at around 07:00am which targeted a ranger vehicle in PD6, in which three people were injured.
The second blast, which was a magnetic mine, occurred near the Chaman-e Hozori area in PD8, wounding several people.
The third incident took place in Kabul’s Deh Sabz district. Kabul police say a roadside bomb blast in Kabul’s Deh Sabz district has injured at least three members of the Afghan army forces.
The fourth explosion took place at around 09:00am near the Shahid square in Dehbouri area PD3, in which a military vehicle was targeted.
Police say two police officers were killed and one civilian was injured in the incident.
The blast also damaged a number of surrounding houses.
Afghanistan will be invited to the next meeting of India, Iran and Uzbekistan on joint use of strategically-located Chabahar port, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said.
The dates for the meeting, to be hosted by India, were being finalised, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran’s southern coast, the Chabahar port is being increasingly seen as a fulcrum of connectivity to Central Asia.
“Afghanistan as a major stakeholder will be invited for this meeting,” Srivastava said.
The port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties among the three countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. The port can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
Iran’s Deputy Tourism Minister and his Afghan counterpart conferred on the expansion of tourism between the two countries.
According to media outlets, Iran’s Deputy Tourism Minister Vali Teymouri and his Afghan counterpart Mojgan Mostafavi discussed the expansion of tourism between the two countries in a videoconference on Friday.
Teymouri stressed the significance of promoting cooperation in the field of tourism education by holding training workshops.
Both sides further emphasized reopening the borders and resuming tourism activities with health protocols in place.
Iran’s Deputy Tourism Minister also invited his counterpart to participate in Tehran Tourism Industries Exhibition which will be held in the upcoming months.
A number of other issues such as the challenges of obtaining visas as well as the importance of transportation infrastructure, including the opening of the Khaf-Herat railway were also discussed during the virtual event.