Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Saturday that the Taliban carried out 650 offensive attacks over the past two weeks, killing 69 civilians and wounding 141.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian said that 86 mines planted by the Taliban also detonated during that time.
Arian said the Afghan security and defence forces had also inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban but did not give an exact figure.
The Taliban has not yet responded to the MoI’s statistics, but in the past, they have repeatedly denied it.
This comes as the MoI said 13 civilians were killed and 38 more were wounded in the car bomb explosion in the Shinwari district headquarters of Nangarhar on Saturday afternoon. At least six policemen were also wounded.
The provincial officials said that 15 bodies had been send to the hospital and at least 40 were injured as well.
Provincial governor’s spokesperson Attaullah Khogyani said two children were among the killed and several of the injured are in a critical condition.
No group has taken responsibility for the attack yet.
The Facebook accounts of several presidential advisers and spokespersons have been taken down or disabled.
Media sources say that the accounts of director General of Administrative Office of the President Fazel Fazly, Senior Advisors Shah Hussain Murtazawi and Sami Hamid, along with Deputy Spokesperson Dawa Khan Menapal, have been unavailable for at least a week.
Earlier, Mohammad Mohaqiq, leader of the People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan, had also announced his Facebook account had been unavailable for the past week.
The reason for this is not clear.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar and NATO Resolute Support Commander Gen. Scott Miller said that the Taliban must reduce their violence.
“We did talk about the violence,” Miller said, taking about his meeting with Faryab officials last week.
“We’re trying to understand, make sure we understand the violence and really this is about the Afghan security forces protecting the Afghan people. But we all acknowledge that violence is too high, and the Taliban must lower their violence.”
Acting Foreign Minister Atmar also said that the rise in the levels of violence was a hurdle to the peace talks, when he met with the envoys of Turkmenistan, China, Iran, Russia and Indian on Thursday.
Atmar noted that the Taliban had agreed, but “failed to adhere to their commitment, to reduce violence following the completion of prisoners’ release.”
Reflecting on the unacceptable level of violence, he called for the formation of a “Deconflicting Mechanism” to reduce and monitor violence. He noted that such a mechanism had been agreed upon by the two parties.
He also said that “regional and international cooperation was vital to achieving an acceptable end-state that ensures the protection of our shared security interests.”
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) recorded seven cases of Coronavirus from the 59 samples tested in the past 24 hours, pushing the confirmed cases in Afghanistan to 39,297.
Four patients succumbed to the virus while no new recoveries were reported.
All the seven new cases were recorded in Kabul province.
There are 4,993 active cases of COVID-9 in the country, with 32,842 recovered and 1,462 deaths.
Nangarhar officials said 15 people were killed and 32 were injured in an ongoing complex attack in Shinwari district on Saturday afternoon.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the Nangarhar governor said attackers first detonated a car bomb at 12:20 p.m. and then tried to storm the Shinwari district building. It is unclear whether it was a suicide attack.
The security forces were able to repel the attack and prevent the men from entering the building, Khogyani said.
The story will be updated with details as they become available.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in response to the Armenian National Assembly’s initiative to deprive Afghanistan’s observer status in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said that only the leadership of the council can decide the issue.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gran Hewad said on Saturday, the CSTO’s leadership council can decided whether to cancel or suspend Afghanistan’s membership.
However, he added that the Afghan government had “good relations” with the leaders of the member states of the organization.
He added that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan needs to be resolved through “negotiation and dialogue” and that is the position of the Afghan government.
“The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been recognised internationally as a part of Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry had said in a statement, expressing concern over the escalating military conflict on Sep. 28.
“Afghanistan demands the end of occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh and supports the efforts by the people and the government of Azerbaijan and other nations of the world in this regard.”
The MFA had also called for a ceasefire and a peaceful solution to the crisis.
On Oct. 1, Ararat Mirzoyan, the President of the National Assembly of Armenia, had initiated the process at the CSTO to deprive Afghanistan of its observer status in the organisation.
The Presidential Palace welcomed the inclusion of peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi’s name among the five Nobel Peace Prize Favorites of the Norwegian Peace Council.
Koofi is the first woman deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, a lawmaker, author and outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children, democracy and moderate Islam.
She is part of the delegation representing the Afghan government in the ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban, representing women and the gains made by the republic in the past 19 years.
“For several years, she has fought tirelessly for the place of women in Afghan society, and now to ensure equal rights for women during the peace negotiations,” said the Norwegian Peace Council.
“She has shared these views publicly, criticizing both the Taliban and the incumbent government. The price she has had to pay has been repeated assassination attempts… However, this has not stopped her from continuing to contribute actively to the peace negotiations,” they added.
The Presidential Palace tweeted on Saturday and said: “Afghanistan welcomes the inclusion of
Ms. Fawzia Koofi’s name, a proud member of our negotiating team in Doha by The Norwegian Peace Council among the five Nobel Peace Prize favourites for 2020, acknowledging her continued work for peace and women’s right.”
The names of famous world leaders and organisations have also been suggested alongside Koofi’s, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Reporters Without Borders.
The Noble Peace Prize ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Parwan officials said a National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel has been assassinated by the Taliban on Saturday.
Bagram District Governor Abdul Shakur Quddusi said the NDS employee was shot dead by the Taliban at around 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The man had been on his way to work when the attack took place in the Pul-e Padekhwab area of the district.
The Taliban is yet to comment on the incident.
Taliban militants launched at attack on security checkpoints along the Kunduz-Takhar highway on Friday evening, killing one security forces member and wounding three others.
Takhar Police spokesperson Khalil Asir told Reporterly on Saturday, that a Taliban commander named Qari Omari Gojar was killed during the clashes and three militants were also wounded.
Asir said the Taliban opened fire while fleeing the area, further injuring at least 10 civilians who were working in the fields nearby.
The civilians were transferred to the hospitals and they are now stable, Asir said.
The Taliban is yet to comment on the incident.
The U.S. has begun has started demolishing and dismantling almost 400 bases in Afghanistan as they reduce their footprint in the country, diplomatic sources told The News.
The publication said the American forces plan to complete the demolition of their mid and small size bases while dismantling the larger one, by the end of this month.
Most of the facilities have already been demolished, but the Department of Defence has not decided the future of its five major bases which are their largest and most expensive, costing billions of dollars each, in the country.
Washington had hinted earlier that it would consider vacating the major bases, leaving them for the Afghan forces to man and control. However, the strategists are confused since they do not want the systems to be accessed by any other nation since it could jeopardize the U.S. security system.
The increasing influence of China in Afghanistan and Iran’s friendly relations are a source of concern for the Pentagon, The News states.
The diplomatic source said Faraha base, close to Iran’s border, would be retained by the United States through any method in the long run. They may try to make arrangements to retain the other major airbases, like Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif.
According to the Doha agreement signed with the Taliban, the U.S. had to completely withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 and not retain any of the military bases.