Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) signed a contract for 259 development projects across Afghanistan worth 723 million AFN in 29 provinces.
Mujib Rahman Karimi, the Minister for MRRD, penned the deal with social and development council of the provinces.
The projects include 148 water supply networks, digging of 127 deep and shallow water wells, construction of 99 water reservoirs, seven toilets and construction of 4,250 meters of irrigation canals.
These will have an impact on the lives of 374,000 villagers in the country.
Some will be funded by the Afghan government’s national budget, while others will receive funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Ministry of Defense(MoD) said that at least 20 Taliban militants, including a commander, were killed in clashes with the security forces in Nangarhar’s Khogyani district.
In their statement on Wednesday, Fawad Aman, a spokesperson for the MoD said that the insurgents had attacked an Afghan security forces checkpost in the Zawa area.
A Taliban commander, identified as Sangarmal, was among the killed.
Four members of the Afghan security forces were also wounded, Aman said.
At least six insurgents were also killed and seven wounded when the Taliban attacked an Afghan security forces convoy in the Malik Shahi area in Paktika’s Omana district.
Two Taliban fighters were also killed and two wounded in Barmal district of the province.
The MoD also reported that at least three Taliban were killed in clashes in Khost province.
Trucks filled with cargo from Pakistan experience long delays and harassment by police and transport unions before they are able to cross into Afghanistan through the Torkham border terminal.
Several truckers said the route through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has become an obstacle course as recent government decisions have forced them to make a stop at the Akkakhel terminal in Bara, some 50 kilometres before Torkham.
Long haul truckers covering the 1,800-kilometre journey from the Karachi seaport to Kabul, often have to wait several days to weeks for the authorities before they are allowed to enter Afghanistan.
This comes a day after a driver from Nangarhar died after suffering injuries during a scuffle with other transporters and the transport union in Bara district. He had been waiting to cross the border for the past 10 days.
Afghan truckers say those who pay bribes get to go through while others have to keep waiting.
Members of the Frontier Customs Agent Group and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene.
Cross-border traders in the region have complained frequently to the Pakistan government for easing the process. Instead, the number of trucks that are allowed to enter has reduced drastically from 800 a day, earlier this year to 200.
Khyber district officials have denied the harassment and said the delays were due to the limitations placed on the number of vehicles allowed to enter under the new agreement with Afghan officials.
Meanwhile in Chaman, transporters are in the midst of a month-long sit-in protest and have blocked roads leading to the border town.
They are asking the government to declare the area a free trade zone since a majority of the local people depend on it for a livelihood.
Along with Afghan transit trade, NATO supply and all cross-border vehicular movement is suspended.
Turkish Coast Guards intercepted a tanker with 276 migrants, including 59 children on Monday.
A state media video showed dozens of migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Bangladesh and Iran, who were crammed into poorly ventilated compartments with some having difficulty breathing.
The authorities also arrested eight people who were suspected of human trafficking before the vessel set sail from Turkey’s Izmir region.
The Turkish-flagged ship was being monitored by the coast guards before the raid took place.
Abdul Manan Shiway-e Sharq, the Deputy Minister of Information and Culture survived an armed attack meant for him on Wednesday morning.
Unidentified gunmen attacked Sharq’s car at around 11am in front of the Kabul University Gate.
Sharq was not in the car, but his driver was injured and taken to the hospital.
He said that security forces are already looking for the perpetrators.
On Tuesday, Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), an Uzbek jihadist group, released photos detailing the capture of five Afghan pro-government militiamen on Tuesday.
The photos, which the group claims is from its Afghanistan branch, were taken after a joint attack with Taliban soldiers the day before, KIB said.
While details were not given, the KIB is known to operate alongside the Taliban in the provinces of Faryab and Jawzjan where ethnic Uzbeks are a large part of the populations.
KIB refers to itself as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – Katibat Imam al Bukhari,” and identifies as part of the Afghan Taliban.
The group is also active in Syria but in 2016, fighters were redeployed to Afghanistan, the United Nations had said.
Since then, the group has released photos and videos depicting their training camps and combat footage from the northern part of the country.
The Foreign Ministry is urging families to identify bodies of those refugees who drowned in Turkey’s Lake Van as soon as possible.
On June 27, a refugee boat capsized due to bad weather in southeastern Turkey. It was carrying up to 60 Afghan refugees according to some reports, along with a few Pakistani and Iranian nationals.
More than 10 bodies have been recovered by the Turkish government so far and search operations are underway.
Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gran Hewad said that the Afghan embassy in Ankara has formed a three-member delegation to investigate the accident.
The bodies being recovered are in a bad condition and Hewad asked family members of those killed to contact them so they can pass on the information to Tehran or Ankara as soon as possible.
Few of the recovered bodies were already buried due to their state.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar on Wednesday morning that killed at least three police officers and injured 14, along with the district police chief.
Kandahar governor’s spokesperson Bahir Ahmadi said the incident happened at around 3:30 am near the police headquarters.
“We had information about a possible attack on police HQ and the forces were prepared. The suicide bomber was shot before he reached his target but his explosives detonated,” Ahmadi said.
The explosion radiated from the bomber’s car which left a crater at the site.
The blast shattered windows within a kilometre’s radius and destroyed several buildings nearby.
The Shah Wali Kot district building and police headquarters are located nearby other civilian buildings such as the agriculture department and a mosque.
The National Assembly of Pakistan will host the inaugural meeting of the Executive Committee of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group (PFG) on Wednesday.
The PFG was first established in 2005 and has remained active since in maintaining cooperation and bilateral ties between the lawmakers of the two nations.
The meeting will be attended by key Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, advisors, special assistants to the Prime Minister, Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan, Speaker of the National Assembly and relevant federal secretaries.
The meeting will seek to complement the democratic vision of the house to promote parliamentary role in deepening bilateral relationship with Afghanistan.
Sapidar Palace said they had not been consulted in the appointments of the new governors by the Independent Directorate of Local Government (IDLG).
According to the power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, both sides can appoint up to 50% of the provincial governors but the nomination must be based on mutual agreement.
The grey area of the power sharing agreement is that it does not specify which province goes to whom.
The IDLG said they had appointed governors to nearly 12 provinces so far and the process is ongoing with a number of new appointees lined up, based on the president’s decree.
New governors were appointed in Laghman, Baghlan, Khost, Samangan, Nuristan and Paktia within the last few days.
Rahmatullah Yarmal has been appointed governor of Laghman, Taj Mohammad Jahid has been appointed governor of Baghlan, Sediq Patman has been appointed governor of Khost, Mohammad Daud Kalakani has been appointed governor of Samangan, Abdul Ghafoor Malikzai has been appointed governor of Nuristan and Mohammad Halim Fidayi has been appointed to Paktia.
Earlier in the year, governors were also appointed to Herat, Bamyan, Daykundi, Ghor, Zabul and Logar provinces.
The IDLG said all governors will not be replaced. Explaining the appointment process, they also said that the department examines the “needs and priorities” of the people of the province and then nominates the “right person” after consulting.
“When they are elected, they do not see which political party or group they [the new governor] belongs to, but the priority of these governors is Afghanistan,” a spokesperson for the IDLG said.
After the process of appointing governors has been completed, the IDLG said they would move on to appointing deputy governors.
However, sources from Sapidar Palace told local media that they had not been consulted at all. The current focus of Abdullah had been naming the cabinet picks and the appointments were “unexpected” since he already had people in mind for some of the provinces.
Dozens of young people, activists and residents of 20 provinces have called for lasting peace in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The peace convoy is marching under the slogan “What is war for?” and demonstrating against obstacles and delays in the Afghan peace process.
The participants say they are tired of the war and want lasting peace, and urged people to take up this cause across the country.
“We call on the government and the Taliban to start intra-Afghan talks so that the peace process in the country can be implemented,” declared several activists in Nimroz.
They also called on the youth and more social media savvy to use the relevant hashtags and spread the movement on all platforms.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 210 new Coronavirus cases within the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 33,594 cases.
Over the past day, 17 people died while 549 recovered, bringing those figures to 937 deaths and 20,700 recovered cases.
Positive cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (141), Takhar (14), Paktia (12), Balkh (10), nine in Kunduz, seven in Badakhshan, three in Nimroz, two in Baghlan, Logar and Parwan provinces and one each in the provinces of Kunar, Panjsher, Kapisa and Nangarhar.
The MoPH said 591 samples were tested during the day.
At least three policemen were killed and 14 others wounded in a car explosion outside the Shah Wali Kot police headquarter in Kandahar on Wednesday.
The blast was carried out using an army vehicle at around 3:30 am, the district governor said.
Media reports claim that the district police commander was among the injured.
Another blast took place in Kabul city’s PD11 on Wednesday morning when a police vehicle went over a roadside mine.
Eyewitnesses said a person was injured in the explosion. However, police officer Nooruddin, who was inside the vehicle, said both of the officers were unhurt.
In another attack, the police commander of Ghazni’s Deh Yak district, Habibullah, was killed with his two bodyguards in a roadside blast while he was patrolling.
Officials have yet to comment on the incidents.