Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At least four civilians were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, local officials said on Sunday.
The spokesman of Nangarhar governor, Attaullah Khogyani said the incident happened in Zawi area of Khogyani district this afternoon.
According to Khogyani, a Saracha type vehicle with civilian passengers hit a roadside IED.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said that it will investigate the claims of civilians casualties in the airstrike carried out in Kandahar province.
“A joint delegation from the 205 Atal Corps, Kandahar Police Headquarters, and Arghandab local officials is probing the issue,” MoD said in a statement.
According to MoD, “Protecting the lives and property of civilians is a top priority for the Defense and Security entities.”
Afghan security forces on Saturday conducted an airstrike in Arghandab district of southern Kandahar province, the attack is said to have targeted Taliban gathering.
However, there are conflicting reports of casualties based on the air raid.
Local residents told the media, at least seven members of a family were killed during the air raid, and the Taliban claimed at least 13 civilians including children were killed due to the bombings.
Slain Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour purchased a life insurance policy using a fake identity in Pakistan and paid Rs 3 lakh in premium before being killed in a US drone attack, according to a media report on Sunday.
Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike along the Pakistan-Iran border on May 21, 2016, assumed the leadership of the Taliban in July 2015, replacing its founder and the one-eyed reclusive long-time spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar who died in 2013.
The details about the insurance policy were revealed during the hearing of a terror funding case against him and his absconding accomplices on Saturday.
The insurance company provided this information to an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi during the hearing of the case registered against Mansour and his accomplices by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last year, Dawn news reported.
It emerged during the investigation that the Taliban leader and his accomplices were involved in generating funds for terrorist activities through the purchase of properties on the basis of forged identities.
He had purchased five properties including plots and houses, estimated to be valued at Rs 32 million ($1,99,812) in Karachi.
The report said that it surfaced during the investigation that Mullah Akhtar Mansour had purchased the life insurance policy by using a fake identity and had paid up to Rs 300,000 to the company before his death in the drone attack on May 21, 2016.
While showing a willingness to return the principal amount that he had paid, the insurance company had presented a cheque worth Rs 300,000 to the investigators for depositing it to the court so that the amount could be deposited in the government treasury, the report quoted sources as saying.
However, the FIA investigators returned the cheque asking the company to pay the principal amount along with the premium so that the whole amount could be deposited to the government treasury, they said.
The acting head of the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has pledged to accelerate work on the World Bank-funded ‘Digital CASA (Central Asia and South Asia) Afghanistan’ programme.
ATRA in a statement has said that the main goals of the five-year, USD51 million project are to provide Afghans with more affordable internet access, to attract private investment in the ICT sector and to improve the government’s capacity to deliver digital government services to the public.
According to the statement, acting ATRA Chairman Omar Mansoor Ansari said: ‘ATRA will take crucial steps together with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and World Bank as an important shareholder of the project to ensure that citizens have access to the best and most satisfactory telecom and internet services.”
“ATRA has [completed the] basic works of this project, such as issuance of optical fibre expansion licenses, encouraging investors and controlling prices, and is also ready to have an important role in implementing the project through comprehensive coordination,” he added.
The meeting of National Revenue Board was chaired by President Ashraf Ghani and discussed the problems of revenue collection on Sunday.
Presidential Palace in a press release said that the President expressed his dissatisfaction with the failure of the Ministry of Finance to achieve the set goal of revenue collection for the yeaar 1399, saying that he started his assessments with this goal and held several meetings regarding this issue.
Referring to the government’s financial commitments to the Afghan people and the international community, President Ghani said that no excuses in revenue collection are acceptable.
“All the problems and obstacles in this area must be fundamentally removed,” he said.
According to the press release, the President instructed the Ministry of Finance to collect taxes as soon as possible from Kam Air, Roshan Telecommunication Company, Afghan Telecom, the Oil and Gas Company, the National Development Operations Office, and all indebted governmental and non-governmental entities.
The statement added that President Ghani emphasized that the Ministry of Finance should accelerate its practical efforts to achieve the set goals within the framework of a clear revenue collection plan.
Ten recipients of the scholarships funded by the European Union (EU) from Afghanistan are set to start their online English language classes at the Almaty Management University (AlmaU) Language School, the press service of the EU Delegation in Kazakhstan reported.
Upon completion, they will study mining at the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU).
In 2019, the EU, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Kazakhstan launched an education program to train several dozen Afghan women in Kazakh universities over the next six years.
The project runs as part of the $2.4 million grant provided by the EU to support Afghan women. Overall, 50 women will receive higher, technical and vocational education at Kazakh and Uzbek universities by 2025.
As part of the project, 30 Afghan women, who started their language training in October 2019, are currently studying agriculture, finance and mining online at the Satbayev University, the Kazakh-British Technical University and the Kazakh National Agrarian University.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, which has been impacted by 40 years of war amid a worsening climate crisis and natural disasters, has now been further battered by the impact of the COVID19, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
“Today, UN Acting Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, completed a week-long field visit to Afghanistan to draw attention to the massive increase in humanitarian needs due to COVID-19, conflict and climate change,” OCHA said in a statement.
According to the press release, the UN, along with its humanitarian partners, is stepping up to keep pace with massively increasing needs, aiming to reach almost 16 million people with assistance next year – 5 million more than six months ago – or double the number of people compared with a year ago.
“The humanitarian situation in the country, which has been impacted by 40 years of war amid a worsening climate crisis and natural disasters, has now been further battered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, where unemployment in the formal and informal sectors has risen steeply. In addition, some 300,000 people across the country have been forced to flee conflict this year,” the press release said.
“Humanitarian capacity in Afghanistan is robust, as aid agencies are reaching 99 per cent of all districts. Throughout the country, almost 8 million people have been provided with humanitarian aid so far this year. In 2021, US$1.3 billion is needed to provide assistance to almost 16 million people. More than ever, the UN calls on the international community to generously support the people of Afghanistan at this critical time,” the press release added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 321 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,655 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 11 deaths and 56 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 49,273 the number of total reported deaths is 1,971 and the total number of recoveries is 38,328.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Takhar, Paktia, Baghlan, Daykundi, Ghazni, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Laghman, Laghman, Kunar, Kapisa, Zabul, Uruzgan, Nuristan and Faryab provinces.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi said on Sunday that Iran-Afghanistan strategic document will be finalized soon.
Speaking on the sidelines of his visit to Kabul, Araghchi said that the document included five part, four of which have been agreed upon and the single remaining part concerns security issues which will be finalized soon.
He said that Iran and Afghanistan need to hold regular and intensive consultations about security issues, adding that Iran and Afghanistan are two neighbors which have common interests and concerns.
Stressing the fact that Iranian government and people will always stand by people and government of Afghanistan, Araghchi said it shows that peace and stability in Afghanistan are the same as those in Iran and Afghan people’s welfare and progress are directly related to the Iranians’.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in a statement has announced that 90 members of Taliban were killed in the past 24 hours in Kandahar province.
Clashes between the Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban in the southern province of Kandahar have left 90 killed.
“During the clashes, 90 Taliban members were killed and nine others wounded,” the ministry said. Taliban attacked regions including Panjwai, Zhari, Arghandab and Maiwand districts of Kandahar, based on which, nine other servicemen were also wounded in the clashes, according to the statement.
On the other hand, the Afghan army has seized large quantities of ammunition and mines during another operation against the Taliban.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government are currently in Doha, Qatar, to discuss resolving disputes and achieving lasting peace in the country.
Military-financial cooperation agreement and the implementation protocol of financial assistance were signed between the representatives of of Afghanistan and turkey in Ankara, on Wednesday. 09 December 2020.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA)
in a press release said based on the agreements, the republic of turkey offers to assist with 100 million Turkish lira (around 13 million USD) in military equipment for the ANDSF over the next five years.
Afghan Embassy in Ankara said in a statement; turkey will provide the amount of 15 million Turkish lira (around 2 million USD) for education and training of the afghan national army, the ministry of interior and the national directorate of security.
According to the press release, the announcement states that Turkey previously extended amount of about one million dollars for these programs on an annual basis.
The new agreements increase this amount to about three millions each year for the next five years addressing the needs of the ANDSF.
The Afghan embassy in Ankara said: “The government of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan expresses sincere gratitude to the brotherly republic of turkey for this generous assistance provided to the ANDSF. This commitment reiterates turkey’s steadfast and long-term support for the afghan national defense and security forces, which turkey is implementing outside the NATO mission in Afghanistan.”
At least five people were died in a traffic accident in Badakhshan province on Saturday, Local officials said.
Spokesman of Badakhshan Police, Sanaullah Rouhani said the incident happened on Baharak-Faizabad route yesterday.
According to Rouhani, the cause of incident was as two passenger buses collided.
He added that the recklessness of drivers and road damage are among the main causes of traffic accidents in Afghanistan.
Two people were killed and two others wounded when a magnetic bomb targeted the vehicle of a Parliament member Tawfiq Wahdat in Kabul on Sunday morning, an official said.
Police spokesman Ferdos Faramarz said the landcruiser vehicle of the lawmaker hit by a magnetic bomb in front of Parwan Hotel in limits of 15th police district at around 7:40am in the morning.
He said the lawmaker Wahdat had survived the blast but two individuals had been killed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
The Afghan and Taliban peace negotiators say they will take a break from the peace talks for some days to discuss each other’s lists on the agendas in a bid to kick of intra-Afghan talks.
Members of Afghanistan negotiating team, Nader Nadery said that the talks will resume on January 5, 2021.
“Since the agenda items need further consultations, the two sides agreed for a recess and to resume the 2nd round of talks on January 5, 2021,” he said, and thanked the People and State of Qatar for their generous hospitality and provision of facilitates to the talks.
“Both sides of the Intra-Afghan Negotiation teams shared initial lists of agenda items and conducted preliminary discussions on the list,” he added.
Taliban Spokesman, Mohammad Naeem also confirmed the break, saying both sides agreed to resume the talks on January 5, 2021.