Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The government of Afghanistan welcomed the announcement of the three-day ceasefire by the Taliban during Eid al-Adha, the Presidential Palace said on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi tweeted, “Announcing a ceasefire is an important step, but the Afghan people want a lasting ceasefire and the start of direct peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.”
Sediqqi said that the government, in order to “ensure peace and stability and the realization of the long-standing aspirations of our people has fulfilled all its obligations in the peace process and has left no excuse for the continuation of violence.”
President Ashraf Ghani also instructed all security and defence forces in the country to observe the three-day ceasefire and not to carry out any operations against the Taliban until the ceasefire is violated by the Taliban.
Taliban said they will observe a three-day ceasefire for the occasion of Eid al-Adha, starting Friday, the group’s spokesperson said.
“In order for our people to spend the three days of Eid in confidence and happiness, all fighters are instructed not to carry out any operations,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.
However, he added that if government forces attacked Taliban fighters, they would retaliate.
His message comes as President Ashraf Ghani and the international community urged for the group to call for a humanitarian ceasefire, reduce violence and prepare for the negotiations.
Badakhshan police announced that the Taliban have been completely cleared from the district of Kuran Wa Munjan by Afghan security forces, on Tuesday.
The Taliban had launched attacks on the district from several fronts last week.
The clashes were first reported at the site of a lapis lazuli mine which the Taliban wanted to seize, but were being held back by the security forces.
Badakhshan police spokesperson Sanaullah Rohani said the Taliban had finally retreated and the district was now under the control of the government forces.
He said that nine Taliban fighters were killed and 11 others were wounded in the clashes, and two members who were residents of Nuristan, had been arrested.
He did not comment on the number of security forces’ casualties.
Clashes over the mines have been reported in the past years. National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, had said that the government was setting up a regional army unit to protect the mines in the district.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel will be meeting this week to discuss new visa policy giving Afghan interpreters sanctuary in the country.
The talks come after ministers were accused of failing to let in almost interpreters who had served along British troops during the Afghan War.
Former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had promised sanctuary to 50 interpreters and their families, but only two were given visas.
Wallace has committed to resolving the issue and Patel said she wishes to honour the Home Office policy to let those interpreters who were already in the U.K. to bring over their immediate families.
Mortar shells struck a football field in Kunduz province on Monday night, killing two teenagers and injuring five others, local officials told media.
The officials told media, that the Taliban were targeting the security commander of Dasht-e-Archi district, however the mortar landed near a football field nearby.
All the teenage casualties were children who were playing at the field.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visited Oslo and met with Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide and other senior officials.
Khalilzad thanked Norway for its ongoing contribution to the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and for its important efforts to advance the Afghan peace process.
He provided an update on the current impediments to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations and how all sides are working to resolve them.
Søreide and Khalilzad discussed all key issues affecting the Afghan peace process, especially the critical importance of having the full inclusion of women in the intra-Afghan negotiations and to achieve a sustainable peace.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that 105 lab-confirmed Coronavirus cases were reported from 416 samples that were tested across Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (39), Kabul (37), Badghis (12), Balkh (8), Badakhshan (4), Takhar (3), Baghlan (1), and Logar (1).
The ministry recorded a death in Herat province while 160 people recovered across the provinces of Kabul, Balkh and Herat.
The current figures are 36,368 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far, with 25,358 recovered and 1,270 deaths.
There are 9,740 actives cases of Coronavirus.
The Taliban wants all private companies and aid organisations operating in Afghanistan to register with them, a Taliban spokesperson said, reports Reuters.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesperson, issued the statement last week, and it is being seen as a move by the Taliban to control these organisations, amid the Afghan government’s push for the peace talks.
Afghanistan is heavily reliant on foreign aid and over 2,200 NGOs operate in the country providing education, health and financial support to the communities.
Mujahid said they had noticed that some companies and aid organisations, were pursuing activities that they deemed were against the national interest.
“We will not allow any agency to work against the interest of our beloved Afghanistan, Islam…so we want to register all of them to have information about their activities,” Mujahid said.
Last year, Taliban had briefly banned the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization after accusing them of conducting “suspicious” activities during vaccination campaigns.
The Afghan government said this was a desperate attempt by the Taliban to assert control over government functions.
“Taliban is a terrorist group. They have no right to force companies, NGOs to register themselves with them,” Dawa Khan Menapal, deputy spokesperson for the Presidential Palace, told Reuters.