Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: A day after General Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter, the British chief of staff and Foreign Secretary General for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tom Drew, arrived in Kabul and met President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, details of the visit were made public by the British embassy.
Saying that the visit was at the invitation of President Ghani, the British embassy in Kabul, said that the visit was to discuss the Afghan peace process and the Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces has emphasized that his country will continue to work with Afghanistan and Pakistan as partners in the fight against terrorism in the region.
During the visit to Kabul, Carter said London would continue to support the Afghan security and defense forces by providing financial support and training for Afghan soldiers and officers in Britain. “We are proud to have served alongside the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and to have played a role in building the capacity of Afghanistan’s professional and capable armed forces, and to continue to support them in the future,” he added.
“London will support the Government of Afghanistan through its diplomatic, development and security assistance. These collaborations also cover the Afghan government’s efforts to combat terrorism,” he said.
The United Kingdom emphasized that it is proud of the achievements of its armed forces, diplomats and development experts in Afghanistan, and considers their work important in reducing the threat of terrorism and threatening the Afghan peace process.
The British Embassy in Kabul says its country has played a key role in supporting Afghan security forces and equipping security forces, training about 5,000 cadres, including 300 women, and supporting Afghanistan’s stable electoral process.
London has pledged to continue to support the Afghan security forces by providing training to Afghan soldiers and officers in the UK and providing financial support to the Afghan security and defense forces.
Kabul: At least 250 civilians have been killed and over 500 have been wounded in attacks by the Taliban during Ramadan, said Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian on Tuesday.
On a day when Afghanistan was mourning the death of civilians who died in the school attack in Kabul, Arian said in a video message that the statistics comes from 15 reported suicide bombings and nearly 200 roadside and magnetic explosions.
According to him, recent attacks in Kabul and Logar provinces have also been carried out by Taliban fighters. On Saturday a car bomb exploded near the Sayyid al-Shuhada girls’ school in western Kabul, followed by two landmines. Eighty-five people were killed and nearly 150 were injured in the incident.
Last week, a car bomb exploded in Logar province, killing 24 people and injuring more than 110. The victims were civilian students.
However, the Taliban has denied involvement in the attacks.
Meanwhile, after reviewing the increasing incidents of violence in Afghanistan, President Emomali Rahmon of neighboring Tajikistan, reportedly ordered heads of power-wielding structures of the country to strengthen Tajikistan’s common border with Afghanistan and take adequate measures to combat transnational organized crime, extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking.
In the meeting members of his government, senior representatives of the President’s Executive Office and other high-ranking officials were present, according to the Tajik president’s official website.
The Tajik leader had also raised concerns over the rising tensions in neighboring Afghanistan during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 8. On May 10, the Tajik leader also extended condolences to Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani over the deadly blasts in Kabul.
Kabul: With the troop withdrawal process underway in full swing, the international troops are also leaving behind tons of military equipment to be destroyed in scrap yards.
The US military is dismantling their portion of the Bagram Air Base and anything that is not taken home or given to the Afghan military is being dismantled.
According to a statement from the US military, at least 1,300 pieces of equipment have been destroyed so far. One official told the Associated Press that there will be more destroyed before the final deadline for departure on September 11.
This process is done as a security measure to ensure that the equipment does not fall into the hands of militants.
As the last few thousand U.S. and NATO troops head out the door, ending their own 20-year war in Afghanistan, they are deep into a massive logistical undertaking, packing up bases around the country. They leave behind an Afghan population where many are deeply frustrated and angry. They feel abandoned to a legacy they blame at least in part on the Americans — a deeply corrupt US-backed government and growing instability that could burst into brutal new phase of civil war.
At Bagram, northwest of the capital Kabul and other bases, US forces are inventorying equipment that will be returned to America. Tens of thousands of metal containers, about 20 feet long, are being shipped out on C-17 cargo planes or by road through Pakistan and Central Asia. As of last week, 60 C-17s packed with equipment had already left Afghanistan.
Officials are being secretive about what stays and what goes. Most of what is being shipped home is sensitive equipment never intended to stay behind, say U.S. Defense and Western officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about departing troops.
Kabul: At least 37 metric tons of food supplies were sent via a plane to Afghanistan from the UAE on Tuesday, as part of its initiatives during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Eisa Salem Aldhaheri, UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said, “The UAE has always stood with brotherly and friendly countries in all circumstances that require solidarity and cooperation. In this regard, the UAE sent a plane carrying food supplies to Afghanistan to support families in need during this holy month.”
He added, “The UAE had sent two planes carrying 7.2 metric tons of medical supplies to Afghanistan to support approximately 7,000 medical personnel as they work to contain the coronavirus.”
To date, the UAE has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing over 2,000 metric tons of assistance to 135 countries, supporting more than 2 million medical professionals in the process.
Kabul: The government of Afghanistan observed national mourning on Tuesday in honor of the victims of the attack on the Sayed al-Shuhada girls’ school in western Kabul, with its national flag flying at half-mast across the globe.
The EU in Afghanistan too lowered their flag in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and the Chinese embassy also mourned the deaths.
On Saturday, a car bomb exploded near the Seyyed al-Shohada girls’ school, and then a second bomb exploded minutes later. The death toll from the incident now stands at 85, according to sources who told BBC while the injured numbered at 147.
In the attack on Dasht-e Barchi school, most of the dead were female students. The list of 40 dead who were taken to medical facilities in the country and a copy of which reached the BBC, shows that 33 of them are girls.
According to the list, 107 of the injured are girls, of whom 63 are young girls and 44 are children. Among the men, 12 of the injured are children.
The official final statistics of this incident have still not been released while officials in Afghanistan say a number of families have buried their victims without registration, and even government agencies responsible for providing assistance to the victims’ families have not yet received a final list.
Kabul: Boosting regional connectivity and an economy-oriented policy which is in line with the Afghan government’s future plans, the construction of a 49.7km road connecting Afghanistan with China in Badakhshan province is 15 percent complete, as per the Ministry of Public Works.
The asphalt road, which is part of the Wakhan corridor, starts from the Bozhaye Gonbad area of Badakhshan Pamir and extends to the end of Wakhan district of Badakhshan province, which almost reaches the Chinese border and will act as a transit route.
Wakhan is a mountainous area in Badakhshan that previously had no access to vehicles and the Wakhan area has been declared a national park.
The contract for the construction of this road cost more than 369 million Afghanis and had been signed with 22 local councils, funded from the national budget of Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Public Works has cited cold climate as one of the reasons for the delay in road construction.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 315 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported three deaths and 121 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 62,718, while the number of reported deaths is 2,713 and the total number of recoveries is 54,503.
MoPH added that the new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhat, Nimroz, Paktia, Parwan, Wardak, Kapisa, Badghis, Kunar, Laghman, Panjshir and Khost provinces.
Kabul: Referring to the recent deadly attack on a girls’ school in Kabul wherein 68 people died, mostly schoolgirls, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) stated that even as it stands horrified and outraged by this weekend’s barbaric bomb attack, they call for an immediate cessation of all kinds of violence against women and girls.
Vicki Aken, Afghanistan Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said, “Afghanistan continues to be one of the most dangerous places for civilians and children, and attacks targeting them is a gross violation of international humanitarian law. Women and girls should never be a target of violence, and yet, in Afghanistan, they continue to be. Attacks on schools and children are attacks on the future of the country.”
“Schools must be a safe place for all Afghan children to thrive, not places they fear for their lives. We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims, including IRC staff, who mourn the loss of their loved ones during the holy month of Ramadan,” Aken added.
“Peace is the only way to ensure the country can recover from years of conflict and the compounding impacts of COVID-19, and to ensure that progress, particularly for women and girls, continues to be made,” the IRC statement added.
Meanwhile, even Amnesty International condemned the attack and Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, said, “The appalling scenes in West Kabul and Zabul Province must serve as a wake-up call to the world. These unspeakable crimes brutally highlight the failure of authorities to protect civilians, particularly girls and minority groups. People are being slaughtered on a weekly basis and the bloodshed shows no sign of letting up. Targeting civilians, especially children and schools, is a war crime and violation of international humanitarian law. All parties to the peace negotiations must focus their utmost efforts on protecting civilians, upholding human rights for all, and ending impunity for these crimes.”
There have been increasing incidents of violence in Afghanistan ever since the international troops started their withdrawal from the war-ravaged nation on May 1.
Kabul: Special security measures have been adopted by the Afghan forces across all provinces to provide better security during the Eid holidays, announced the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday.
The implementation of special security measures come even as a ceasefire has been declared for three days.
According to Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, although the Taliban have declared a ceasefire, it has been seen in the past that there can be a “breach of commitment.” However, he added that the people should not worry and the security forces are ready to defend the people during Eid.
Meanwhile, the Security Council also issued a press statement condemning Saturday’s attack on a girl’s school. “The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of the victims. They also said that they were deeply concerned about the continuing high level of violence and the security situation in Afghanistan, especially the number of civilian casualties, and stressed the importance of sustained efforts to end violence and protect civilians.”
The statement added that attacks on schools and educational facilities should be halted as right to education and its contribution to the achievement of peace and security is immense. The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
The members of the Security Council also underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice. They urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.