Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Finland’s Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said their 60 soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan under NATO Resolute Support will likely be home in early 2021.
In a televised interview, Kaikkonen said that the entire international operation in Afghanistan is winding down.
“Of course there are question marks in the air because there is much work to be done on peace negotiation in the region. I still would not venture to describe the area as very stable, but plans are heading in this direction,” he said.
Finnish troops can be back as early as Spring 2021, he said.
In July, the minister had said there were no plans to withdraw the troops in the near future. He had said that the decision to bring troops home would be tied to developments in Afghanistan, and he had not seen any improvement.
In Sunday’s interview however, Kaikkonen said that all international operation in Afghanistan were ending their mission.
Finland has been part of the crisis management operations in Afghanistan since the early 2000s.
The Afghan laboratories tested 357 samples for Coronavirus in the past 24 hours and found 44 to be positive, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said, pushing the total to 39,341 confirmed so far.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Farah (18), Kabul (13), Herat (8), Daykundi (2), Helmand (1), Zabul(1) and Uruzgan (1).
The MoPH also reported no new deaths and 10 recoveries in the past day.
Afghanistan has 5,027 active cases of COVID-19 with 32,852 recovered and 1,462 deaths.
President Ashraf Ghani met Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation on Sunday morning at the Presidential Palace.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said that Abdullah briefed Ghani on his recent visit to Pakistan and talked about the next steps in the peace process.
No further details about the meeting were provided.
Abdullah is expected to visit India on a four-day trip from Oct. 6 as part of an outreach to build regional support for the peace talks, reports Indian media.
This will be his first visit to New Delhi since the formation of the new government and he is expected to meet top officials.
The trip has not been confirmed by Abdullah’s office yet.
Takhar security officials said clashes have been ongoing between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in the Qulburs area on the Takhar-Kunduz highway.
Khalil Asir, spokesperson for the Takhar Police told Reporterly on Sunday, that the Taliban fighters launched an attack at around 4 a.m. in the morning on a joint security base of the police and the People’s Uprising Forces.
The militants also destroyed a nearby bridge to prevent reinforcements from getting to the base.
Asir said that reinforcements have still been sent.
He did not share any details on the casualties.
In his visit to Paktika province on Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani told the Taliban that they will be unable to achieve their goals by violence and urged them to find solutions.
“You are trapped in foreigners’ house. Let’s talk about the future of the country. People are not deceived by your slogans, they want plans practical work,” Ghani said in his address.
Referring to the ongoing talks, the president advised patience.
“My clear message to the Taliban is that they will not achieve their goal with violence, and if they continue, how will they live in this land tomorrow?” he asked the gathering.
Ghani said that it was the government’s duty to provide education for the children of the Taliban members and lives of dignity for their elders and their forces.
“We have accepted you as a negative power, but come and change into a positive power, so that we can talk about the future and bring peace and progress,” he urged.
Ghani stressed that peace is the will of the people and without it progress is impossible.
He added, “We are ready to end the 40-year crisis and misery in a fundamental way. We have a plan, will and intention for peace, and we firmly want to stop the continuation of bloodshed.”
Kabul police reported that two government employees were assassinated and two civilians were wounded in the capital on Sunday.
Ferdows Faramarz, spokesperson for Kabul Police Command told Reporterly, the murder of the government employees is still being investigated.
“At around 7:47 a.m. this morning, two government employees were killed by unknown individuals in the Tank-e Charaki area of PD16,” he said.
Faramarz added that details of the incident will be shared later.
He also added that in another incident, at around 8:10 a.m., an SUV was targeted by a magnetic mine in the Hewad Wall area of PD8, injuring two civilians.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the incidents yet.