Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Taliban group says a number of parties have alleged that the the group is not complying with its obligations outlined in the Doha agreement, and some sides are exerting efforts to prolong the stay of foreign forces in the country.
The group in a press release on Saturday said Taliban on its part is seriously committed to Doha agreement’s implementation, has taken effective steps in this regard, and also wants the other side to stringently implement the accord.
“The American side attests that no foreign trooper has been killed over the past 12 months in Afghanistan, showcasing firm commitment of the Islamic Emirate to the agreement,” the press release reads.
The Taliban group cited that the fighting which has occurred is mostly cases where their fighters have been forced to defend their areas, or where the public has been safeguarded from harmful check posts, or where gunmen that extorted passenger vehicles and supply trucks on main highways were suppressed.
The press release added that the group once again called on all parties to remain committed to their obligations instead of what they called as resorting to propaganda, provocations, baseless accusations and promoting an atmosphere of distrust.
At least 10 people were injured when a gas tanker exploded at a customs post in Herat province on Saturday, officials said as scores of local residents tried to control a massive fire at the scene.
The fire in the Islam Qala border spread to dozens of nearby gas trucks, the officials said.
Waheed Qatali, the governor of Herat, said Iranian authorities had been asked for urgent assistance to contain the blaze.
The wounded people were taken to the provincial hospital and the number of casualties could rise, said Mohammad Shirzai a spokesman for Herat’s health department.
In the meantime, the residents also said a number of gas tanker drivers had been burned in the blaze.
The Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries says preliminary investigations show that more than $ 50 million in financial losses have been inflicted on traders.
Younes Ghazizada, head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries stated that although the exact number of damage caused by the blaze is not yet known, many of the fuel tankers at Islam Qala had been completely burnt down.
Criticizing the government, Mr. Ghazizada noted that despite repeated warnings to the government that the Islam Qala customs does not have the infrastructure to exporting traders’ goods; but the government has not paid any attention.
The governor of Herat also estimated the amount of damage caused by the fire huge and added that after controlling the fire, the exact number of damages will be clear.
Afghanistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib says the Taliban do not want peace, instead they want an absolute power in the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, NSA Moheb said: “We have taken all necessary steps to bring peace and we are waiting for the Taliban to prove they want it too. However, seeking an absolute power does not mean peace.”
According to Mohib, the peace talks are currently deadlocked due to the Taliban’s reluctance and unwillingness to make peace.
“The Taliban were the losers in 2020,” Moheb said. “Everyone was waiting to see the changes in this group; But because they are just engaged in the war, they have been in politics. Today they are all ready for war. If the Taliban still wants to make peace, our team is ready.”
The second round of peace talks began in Qatar at least a month and a half ago; But since then, no formal meeting has been held between the two sides. During this time, the Taliban delegation has traveled to Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan.
The National Security Adviser also said that the Afghan government expected the violence to decrease with the release of Taliban prisoners; But this expectation was not met and therefore the re-release of the Taliban inmates will have no effect on the peace process.
In the meantime, Ahmad Zia Siraj, the Director of National Directorate of Security (NDS) said at the press conference that 224 people had been detained by the NDS forces in the past week, including 130 accused of involvement in terrorist activities.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) says a seven member of group Taliban mine planters has been arrested during a special operation in Laghman province.
NDS in a statement said that the detainees were identified as Murtaza, Abdul Rahman, Badam, Hafizullah, Abdul Majid, Kefayatullah and Muhammad Nabi.
According to the statement, the detainees had the responsibility of transferring and placing IEDs in all parts of Laghman province.
The statement added that they Taliban members had planned to target government officials, security forces and civilians with using IEDs.
Abdul Rauf Arghandiwal, a senior commander of the 207th Zafar Corps in the western zone of the country, has warned that the Taliban militants are preparing for “a major battle” next year by spreading attacks and creating panic among the people.
Mr. Arghandiwal made these remarks today at the introductory ceremony of Esmatullah Gharwal, the new commander of the 1st Brigade of the 207th Zafar Corps.
“We are waiting for a bloody war next year and we must be ready for it,” he told Afghan army soldiers.
He went on to warn the Taliban that the next spring would be “the bloodiest spring” for the group if they do not stop the violence.
Arghandiwal stated that the Taliban’s attacks not only decreased their attacks but also increased the offensive in Ghor, Farah and parts of Herat provinces.
Arghandiwal added that about 1,200 Taliban fighters were killed and 1,600 others wounded during operations this year.
Meanwhile, Herat Governor Sayed Abdul Wahid Qatali said at the ceremony that security forces had repelled about 600 Taliban attacks in the province this year.
Mr Qatali also added that the Taliban insurgents are trying to destroy infrastructures and increase insecurity with the support of the neighboring countries.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 19 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1489 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported no deaths and 19 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,492 the number of total reported deaths is 2,427 and the total number of recoveries is 48,392.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Balkh, Takhar, Kunduz, Nimroz, Badakhshan, Logar, Helmand and Faryab.
A major blaze broke out as several oil tankers caught fire after one of the tankers exploded at the Islam Qala port in Herat province on Saturday afternoon, the provincial governor, Waheed Qatali said.
Local authorities said they lack the required facilities to quench the inferno and have offered no comments on possible casualties.
The governor of Herat stated that authorities have sought Iran’s help to extinguish the flames.
The imported power from Iran was disconnected in Herat after the fire damaged a 132-kilovolt power transmission line, the country’s power distributor, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, said.
Jamshid Rasouli, the spokesman of Attorney General’s Office (AGO), said that the case of Allahdad Fedayee, Maidan Wardak police chief, in connection with the protest in Behsud district has still not submitted to the office.
Last week, the Ministry of Interior announced that the duty of Allahdad Fedayee, the police chief of Maidan Wardak province, had been suspended and his case had been referred to AGO for further investigation.
About 15 days ago, local media reported that security forces led by Allahdad Fedayee opened fired on protesters in the Hese Awal Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province.
At least eleven people were killed and 31 others were injured in the shooting, according to separate reports from the Government investigation delegation and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
The Interior Ministry said after evaluating the findings of a government delegation, the protesters were unarmed and that 11 civilians had been killed and 31 wounded after the protest turned violent.
The report of the Human Rights Commission also confirmed that the protesters were unarmed during their demonstration.
The State Ministry for Peace Affairs says Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace, and Mustafa Mastoor, Senior Advisor to the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), attended an online meeting hosted by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and attended by ambassadors and representatives of countries and international organizations that are supporting and assisting the Afghanistan peace process.
SMP in a press release on Saturday said that the State Minister for Peace, while thanking UNAMA for hosting the meeting, thanked the participants for their support for the peace process and peace structures.
According to the press release, Naderi shed light on the role of the established structures of the Afghan peace process.
He said that the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) is the political body of the peace process, the negotiation team is in charge of moving the negotiations forward, and the State Ministry for Peace acts as the technical body of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
Referring to the importance of the principle of accountability and the fight against corruption, the State Minister for Peace said that all peace structures support transparency.
He added that work has been done on the mutual accountability mechanism.
Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi went on to say that peace structures need the cooperation of their international partners in capacity building and implementation of programs.
In the meantime, the UNAMA Acting-Deputy Head Steve Brooking stated UNAMA’s readiness to support peace structures programs.
The participants of the meeting also expressed their views on modality and areas of cooperation, and said they support the peace process and its organizers and would help peace structures programs.
At least two people were wounded after the protest of a number of inmates turned violent in Herat prison on Saturday.
The spokesman of Herat Public Health department, Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai said that a policeman and a wounded prisoner had been taken to hospital following protests by prisoners at Herat Prison.
Local media reported the protest was broke out due to the transfer of prisoners to the Pul-e Charkhi prison in Kabul.
Without giving details about the incident, security sources said that the situation is now under the control of security forces.
At least five Policemen were killed in an explosion on their vehicle in Chapa Dara district in Kunar province on Friday night, a provincial council member Din Mohammad said.
According to Din Mohammad, Feroz, the commander of a reinforcement company of police, was also killed in the explosion which happened in Chapa Dara district.
This comes as a car bomb blast targeted a security forces outpost in Arghandab district of Kandahar province on Saturday morning, leaving seven police force members wounded.
A blast in a mosque killed at least 30 Taliban militants including six foreign nationals in Balkh province this morning, security officials said.
The Shahin 209 Corps in a statement said that the blast took place at around 09:25am on Saturday.
According to the statement, the identities of foreign nationals have not been recognized.
The statement added that the blast happened as the Taliban insurgents gathered in a mosque in Qolta district of Dawlat Abad district for the bomb-making trainings.
Abdul Aziz Beg, head of the Badghis provincial council, says Abdul Ghafoor Mahmoodi, a former border police official in the Abkamari district of the province has joined the Taliban group.
Aziz Beg said that Mahmoodi had served as the commander of the Police reserve battalion and the commander of the Badghis border forces.
He noted that Abdul Ghafoor Mahmoodi was also a candidate in the 2017 parliamentary elections.
According to him, the motive of joining the Taliban’s ranks is not clear so far.
Meanwhile, Shir Agha Alokozai, the Police chief of Badghis has confirmed that Mahmoodi has joined the Taliban group.
Tajikistan Khatlon customs officers have prevented the transfer of almost 2 tons of medicines to Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Tajik media, Khatlon chief customs officer Zafar Mahmadiyev made the remarks on Friday at a meeting with reporters in Bokhtar, the capital of Khatlon province.
According to him, the smugglers wanted to transfer the medicines to Afghanistan in late June last year.
“An inspection of cargo at the Panji Poyon border crossing point (BCP) found 1,850 kilograms of medicines hidden in a truck loaded with cement,”
Mahmadiyev noted that Tajikistan itself needed those drugs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Khatlon Customs Directorate has instituted criminal proceedings and remitted the case for further examination to the Khatlon chief prosecutor’s office.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the series of IED blasts, targeted killings and a surge of violence in Afghanistan in the past few days causing a number of casualties, including civilians.
OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and the government and people of Afghanistan, wishing the wounded speedy recovery, the organization said in a statement.
The Secretary General called for an urgent end to violence, urged all parties to concentrate on peace efforts and to contribute towards achieving success at the inter-Afghan peace talks.
“Dialogue, rather than resorting to violence, is the only way forward towards reaching comprehensive reconciliation and lasting peace in Afghanistan within the framework of an Afghan-led and owned peace process”, Dr. Al-Othaimeen added.
The US Embassy in Kabul has voiced deep concern over the “misappropriation” of the funds to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan.
The Embassy in a statement said: “Do you know that dozens of Afghan officials have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for misappropriation of COVID-19 response funds.”
“This malfeasance costs Afghan citizens not just financially, but in delayed access to potentially life-saving medical care,” the statement said.
The Embassy called on the Afghan officials to “Stop Corruption.”
This comes as, the Inspector General’s Office for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has said that more than 220 government officials are suspected of being involved in embezzling COVID-19 funds.
SIGAR cited that 15 provincial governors are also among those suspected of corruption and embezzlement.