Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Ministry of Publich Health (MoPH) on Sunday said that it has recorded 484 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 37 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 147,985, while the death toll is 6,774.
This comes even as Afghanistan’s acting Public Health Minister Wahid Majroh has described China as a major partner in his country’s fight against COVID-19, and thanked Beijing for its various support. “China has been one of our most effective partners when especially it comes to health service delivery,” Majroh told Xinhua in an interview. “The cooperation goes beyond COVID-19 — during the pandemic, China supported us in different aspects.”
“On the first days of the fight against COVID-19, China provided us ventilators, face masks and sanitizers, even during the days when they themselves were in need of these resources,” Majroh said.
“We thank China for its support, which continued with the donation of vaccines,” which is of great help for Afghanistan’s vaccination campaign and is also a sign of friendship between the two countries, the minister said.
Kabul: The Parwan Police has announced that the Taliban offensive in the Jabal Saraj district of the province has been repulsed by security forces and popular uprising forces. A statement issued by Parwan police on Sunday said that the Taliban attacked army checkpoints in the village of Shatotak in Jabal Saraj district of Parwan province at around 12:00pm on Sunday, which was met with resistance from security forces.
According to the statement, the Taliban suffered heavy casualties in the clash and the group’s fighters fled the area. Two Taliban fighters have been killed in the district as a result of resistance by security forces and popular uprisings. Parwan police have confirmed the wounding of an army soldier. The Taliban have not yet commented.
On the other hand, a security source confirmed that one policeman and two civilians were killed as a result of shooting by unidentified gunmen in Kabul’s PD5. The source, who did not want to be named in the news, told the Etilaat roz daily on Sunday that the incident took place in the “Company” area of the PD5. According to the source, unidentified gunmen opened fire at a police vehicle and fled the area. One policeman and two other civilians were injured in the incident. He did not elaborate on the identities of those killed or injured in the incident.
Also, unidentified gunmen killed Khairullah Khaksar, a religious scholar, in PD4 of Jalalabad city, Nangarhar province on Sunday. Provincial governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told Etilaat Roz daily that the incident happened at around 10:30am and the perpetrators fled. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.
Meanwhile, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) has clarified how four journalists were detained in Kandahar province. On Sunday, the NDS said in a statement that Bismillah Watandost, head of Sadaye Milat radio; Qudratullah Soltani, and Mohibullah Obaidi, employees of the radio, and Sanaullah Siam, a correspondent, at the house of General Abdul Raziq, met with Taliban leaders, including Mullah Gul Agha, intelligence chief of Taliban, Mawlavi Manzoor, Gen. Mobin, and Faizullah, two employees of Pakistani ISI, Mullah Yaqub Omari, son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, Taliban military chief, and got an exclusive interview.
NDS added in the statement that the purpose of the meeting and interview was to not expose the ugliness of Taliban, but to glorify the Taliban. According to national security sources, the detained journalists were trying to ignore the “inhumane acts of this terrorist group” in various provinces, including the Spin Boldak incident in Kandahar, in order to change public opinion in favor of the Taliban.
National Security officials also said that the preliminary results of the investigation show that these journalists have committed various violations in the past and extorted money from government officials and businessmen. Bismillah Watandost, head of Sadaye Millat radio, recently called the governor of Kandahar and encouraged him to surrender so that the Taliban could offer Eid prayers at the Kandahar provincial headquarters, the NDS added.
In addition, NDS has asserted that a number of these media outlets and journalists were involved in illegal activities. The agency explained that Sadaye Millat radio was not licensed to broadcast by the Ministry of Information and Culture and was operating illegally. In addition, China’s Xinhua news agency, said it was unaware of the presence of a journalist named Sanaullah Siam at the agency, saying that the reporter had misused the agency’s name and was engaging in illegal activities.
However, according to the NDS, the Kandahar governor wrote a letter to the NDS requesting the arrest of the “unknown” journalists. The organization has said that the case of these journalists has been completed and will soon be sent to the judicial authorities, so that these institutions can process their cases in accordance with the rulings and the applicable law of the country. NDS has emphasized that in accordance with the laws in force in the country, anyone who spreads propaganda during the war to raise the morale of the enemy and destroy the morale of the defense and security forces, has committed a crime and the security, justice and judiciary deals with it in accordance with the provisions of the law.
National Security officials added that it does not allow any person in the media to deviate from the constitution, abuse its freedom of expression and media values, as well as spread propaganda for terrorist groups. It has warned that it will take legal action if it sees propaganda that includes defamatory content from the enemy, as well as propaganda in favor of terrorist groups.
In other news, the entrance exam for the National Military Academy of Marshall Fahim National Defense University was held on Sunday with the participation of about 5,000 male and female volunteers from all over the country in the presence of Gen. Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, Chief of Army Staff and under the supervision of the National Examinations Office.
Ahmadzai appreciated the great enthusiasm and interest of the youth to join the ranks of the ANA, and said, “In the critical situation when you came to join the ranks of the Defense Forces, you performed your religious and patriotic obligation. You will be professionally assigned to the serious tasks of defending the homeland.” Rawzatullah Majidi, Head of the National Examination Authority Board, assured the candidates of ensuring justice and transparency in the examination process. Candidates also expressed their full satisfaction with the transparency of the exam.
Meanwhile, Iran has called on its citizens to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, citing escalating security threats. The Iranian embassy in Kabul on Sunday wrote in a statement that all Iranian citizens in different provinces of Afghanistan except Kabul must leave the country.
The embassy said in a statement that its citizens can travel to Kabul only in emergencies and refuse to travel to other provinces. According to the embassy’s statement, the trip of Iranian citizens to Afghanistan should be in coordination with the Iranian embassy in Kabul.
Kabul: President Ashraf Ghani said that the Taliban have become more oppressive and non-Muslim as compared to the past and have no will for peace.
Ghani told the first digital cabinet meeting on Sunday that despite the Taliban’s reluctance to make peace, he is confident that the security situation would return to normal within the next six months. Ghani emphasized that the security of cities is a priority for the government.
He said that the Taliban had allowed international insurgent groups to enter Afghanistan. The president said that people in some parts of the country are dissatisfied with the government, but added that the government wants the constitution to be implemented properly so that the people are satisfied.
He added that despite the Taliban’s efforts, the Afghan people have shown that they have sided with the security and defense forces. Ghani accused the Taliban of lying and said the group would not enter peace talks until the country’s security situation changed. Ghani’s remarks come at a time when the war is intensifying in most provinces of the country and the number of civilian and military casualties is increasing daily.
Also, security officials in Badakhshan province have confirmed that a roadside bomb had exploded in the provincial capital, Faizabad city. Badakhshan police spokesperson Sanaullah Rouhani told Hashte Subh daily that the incident took place before noon on Sunday, near the “Mazar restaurant” in Shahr-e Naw, the PD3 of Faizabad.
According to Rouhani, no one was injured in the attack. Eyewitnesses told Hashte Subh daily that the explosion took place on a police ranger in the alley leading to the Badakhshan police headquarters and damaged the houses around the scene. However, a number of Faizabad residents have complained that the police are negligent in providing security. This is the second mine explosion in the city of Faizabad in central Badakhshan. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for this incident
Meanwhile, the counter-narcotics and Border Police officers arrested a man on Saturday in connection with drug trafficking from Hamid Karzai International Airport during an operation. Detained person wanted to smuggle more than seven kilograms of “methamphetamine” type drugs abroad through the airport customs, which was identified and seized by the police. In connection with this case, another person from the PD8 of Kabul was arrested.
Kabul: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that 29 civilians have been killed or injured every day during the first six months of this year.
A total of 1,677 people were killed and 3,644 were injured in 1,594 separate incidents in Afghanistan during the same period, the Commission said in a new report. These figures show an 80% increase in the number of victims compared to the same period in 2020. Last year, a total of 1,213 people and 1,744 people were injured in about 880 security incidents during the first six months.
According to the report, the Taliban were responsible for 56 percent of the civilian casualties recorded, and 22 percent of the casualties were attributed to unknown individuals. Government forces are also responsible for 15 percent of civilian casualties, and the IS-K is responsible for 7 percent of fatalities.
In terms of gender, 154 women were killed and 350 others were injured in the first six months of the year, according to the report. This means that this figure has increased by about 70% compared to the same period last year. The number of children killed was 373 and the number of injured was estimated at 1,083, which is almost three times more than the same period last year.
In other news, Shakib Shams and Estoray Karimi, two local reporters of Salam Watandar and Pajhwok news agency, were released by the Taliban after being captured by them for a while.
Shams said that he and his wife were captured by Taliban when they went to Pul-e Malan for news coverage. He added that they were taken to the group’s shadow district governor for questioning and their mobile phones were also checked. Shams, in connection with the incident wrote: “Moments ago, we went to Pul-e Malan to cover news, everything was normal. Two tanks of the National Army were present in the area. When we were 50 meters from the tank, suddenly someone shot at us in our car. Then, the Taliban took us to their district governor and when we introduced ourselves as journalists, they checked our mobile phones and then, released us after 20 minutes.”
Afghan Independent Journalists Association while appreciating the fact that the Taliban did not harass the journalists, called on the parties involved to provide accurate and timely guidance to journalists who are civilians and when they enter their area.
On the other hand, Taliban carried out offensive attacks in the areas of Qara Parchab, Panjshiri Qeshlaq, Abdal and the airport areas, which were repulsed by the joint security and defense forces and popular uprisings, leaving dozens dead and wounded. Security and defense forces and popular uprising forces with high combat morale repulsed the attacks and have strong strongholds in all parts of Takhar and will prevent any movements and attacks of the insurgents.
Also, General Abdul Rahman Rahman, Senior Deputy Interior Minister for Security, arrived in Herat province on Sunday. In a meeting with General Abdul Sabur Qane, Governor of Herat Province, Rahman praised the courage of the security forces and the resistance of the people’s forces against the Taliban, and assured that special units would suppress the enemy. The governor of Herat also called the spirit of supporting the system among the various strata hopeful and expressed confidence in the success of the hand-to-hand operations.
Kabul: Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesperson for the country’s armed forces, said that 66 civilians had been killed by Taliban insurgents over the past week.
Speaking at a news conference in Kabul on Sunday, Shinwari said that 198 civilians had been wounded by the group’s fighters during that period. He added that the Taliban had destroyed 10 houses and set fire to a number of public infrastructures during this period.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the country’s armed forces said that 1,233 Taliban fighters had been killed and 770 others wounded in 221 government military operations in the past week. Among them are key Taliban military and intelligence personnel.
According to him, 132 Taliban fighters were also detained during the operation. Shinwari stressed that a number of areas were also under government control. He also said that all security and defense forces are currently under combat summons to repel Taliban attacks in the country, especially in Helmand, Kandahar and Herat provinces. He stressed that these forces now have the ability to protect all parts of the country.
Taliban has intensified attacks in Herat, Kandahar and Helmand in the recent days. The Taliban in these provinces were able to advance to the outskirts of the city.
Kabul: At least three rockets struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan overnight, an official told AFP on Sunday, as the Taliban pressed on with their sweeping offensive across the country.
“On Saturday night, three rockets were fired at the airport and two of them hit the runway. Due to this all flights from the airport have been cancelled,” airport chief Massoud Pashtun told AFP.
Pashtun said work to repair the runway was underway and expected the airport to be operational later on Sunday. An official at the civil aviation authority in Kabul confirmed the rocket attack. The Taliban have for weeks launched withering assaults on the outskirts of Kandahar, stirring fears that the insurgents were on the verge of capturing the provincial capital.
Kandahar’s air base is vital to providing the logistics and air support needed to keep the militants from overrunning the city. The attack on the airport came as the Taliban inched closer to overrunning two other provincial capitals — Herat in the west and Lashkar Gah in the south. The Taliban’s significant territorial gains during the final stages of the US military withdrawal have largely been in sparsely populated rural areas. But in recent weeks they have brought increasing pressure on several provincial capitals and seized key border crossings.
Even, the Interior Ministry confirmed that Kandahar airport was targeted by rockets. Ahmad Zia Zia, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, told Etilaat roz daily that three rocket-propelled grenades were fired inside the airport at around 8:30pm on Saturday night.
Zia also said the rockets were fired by the Taliban, but there were no casualties. He did not comment on the extent of the damage. Jamal Nasser Barakzai, a spokesman for the Kandahar police headquarters, told Etilaat roz daily that flights have also been cancelled following the rocket attacks. Barakzai stressed that repair work has begun again on the flight line.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on China’s military leadership to strengthen its solidarity with the Communist Party as he warned of potential armed conflict and security concerns at the country’s border with Afghanistan. Xi said China should be prepared for “military struggle” as the United States is set to withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year. Xi made the remarks about strengthening the country’s military prowess ahead of the 94th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) formation. Beijing officials have for months expressed concerns that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is stirring up a Taliban resurgence and inviting regional instability.
Xi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi this week said the U.S. pullout could provide Uyghur separatists with a base of terror operations in which they could conduct attacks against the CCP in the Western region of Xinjiang. Chinese President Xi Jinping says that China must be prepared for a “struggle” as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.
Wang hosted a delegation of the Taliban led by the group’s political committee head, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, on Wednesday.
Kabul: The Ministries of Interior and Defense have announced that hundreds of special forces have been sent to Herat province to suppress the Taliban.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai said in a tweet that the ministry’s senior deputy minister had left for Herat province with newly recruited units. Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, also wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that the forces will increase offensive operations in the suburbs of Herat city.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are gaining ground in the Guzara district of Herat. Currently, the Pul-e Malan and the Pul-e Pashtun near the city of Herat have become the front lines of the war. On Saturday, Mohammad Ismail Khan, commander of the people’s uprising forces against the Taliban, criticized the Ministry of Defense for delaying the deployment of new troops. He called on the government to send more troops to Herat.
Residents of Herat are concerned about the possible fall of the city to the Taliban. The residents are calling on the government to push the Taliban away from the city’s security belts. Currently, 17 districts of Herat are completely under the control of the Taliban, and this group also controls a large part of Guzara district. In fact, a number of Herat residents have prepared a plan for the ceasefire. This plan was prepared during the intense clashes in the city and suburbs of the capital of Herat province. Residents of Herat said that the province is at risk of house-to-house clashes, and if war continues, poverty, unemployment, overcrowding and internal migration, and irreparable damage will be inflicted on the people.
In this way, the people of Herat have demanded a ceasefire between the government and the Taliban. According to the plan of the residents of Herat, a ceasefire should be established in the city and districts and the two sides should refrain from attacking each other’s positions until a major political and intra-Afghan agreement is reached.
The plan of the residents of Herat states that the security of the people and the means of transportation in the areas under the control of both parties should be ensured. The duration of the ceasefire will be determined according to the plan of the people of Herat until the conclusion of the peace talks. In the end, it was emphasized that the ports of Torghundi and Islam Qala should remain open under any circumstances.
Earlier, a ceasefire was declared in Badghis through the mediation of local elders and people. For the past two days, the Taliban have launched a series of large-scale attacks on the city of Herat. The Interior Ministry said the attacks were repulsed by security forces.
This comes even as acting Interior Minister Gen. Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal visited the three newly established reserve strike battalions under the auspices of the Public Protection Force on Saturday afternoon. The Acting Minister, while visiting the members of the reserve strike battalions, called them heroes and fighters of the right path and said that they are facing the terrorist groups that are supported by foreign countries. He called the establishment of the mentioned battalions effective in providing security and issued the necessary instructions to the members of these battalions.
Meanwhile, Kapisa police forces arrested a man in connection with the assassination of Freshta Kohistani and her brother from Kapisa province. The person was arrested on Saturday in a targeted operation of the ANP forces from Deh Naw area of Hese Dowom district of Kapisa district. Freshta, a social and civil activist, was killed by terrorists in the capital of Kapisa province last year.
Also, Interior Ministry officials said that a traffic policeman in Kunduz province has been shot dead by Taliban insurgents. Zia Zia, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told the Subhe Kabul daily that Bashir, a traffic policeman in Kunduz province, had been captured by Taliban three days ago.
According to Zia, he was shot dead by Taliban fighters in the Dashte Abadan area of Kunduz on Saturday. Meanwhile, since Sunday morning, social media users have been posting a video, according to which the traffic police was shot by a fighter affiliated with the IS-K group. However, the deputy interior ministry spokesman said the traffic police had been abducted in a Taliban-controlled area and that the Taliban were the main culprits. The Khorasan branch of ISIS claimed responsibility for the incident; but the Taliban have not yet commented on it.
Meanwhile, in a related news, Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, has said that confidentiality and operational security are one of the foundations of war, but the use of Facebook in matters of war and security has become one of the great weaknesses of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Saleh wrote in a note on his Facebook page on Sunday, that social networks have severely overshadowed the privacy and security of the operations. According to him, the price of this recklessness and arbitrariness is borne by the brave and faithful youth on the battlefield.
Saleh added that appearances and popularization reduce the spirituality and toughness of activities. He expressed the hope that the experienced personalities would respect the privacy and operational security. Saleh said that you should realize that every word you say has a friend and an enemy audience.
Kabul: Heavy rainfall over the past few days in Kamdesh district of Nuristan province caused floods and as a result of which 113 people were killed. The floods have completely destroyed the village of Mirdesh in Kamdesh district. The village is located six kilometers from the center of Kamdesh district.
Hafiz Abdul Qayyum, the governor of Nuristan, told Hashte Subh daily that 113 people, including women and children, were killed and dozens more were injured in the floods on Wednesday night. The governor of Nuristan added, “At least 173 houses have been flooded and the bodies of 113 people have been found in the rubble.”
On the other hand, Ahmad Tamim Azimi, the spokesman of the State Ministry for Disaster Management, said that according to the initial report of the Nuristan Disaster Management Department, another 140 people have disappeared due to the floods.
Qayyum stated that as a result of the floods, 11,000 acres of land, 10 mills, a mosque, 10 shops, 50 small electricity dams and six other bridges were destroyed. According to him, the residents of Kamdesh are facing many challenges and the local government of Nuristan is trying to help the families as a matter of urgency. Qayyum said, “A humanitarian catastrophe has occurred in Kamdesh. Our teams and aid agencies are currently working to provide food and shelter to the affected families.” According to Qayyum, the presence of the Taliban in the area has hampered the process of providing aid to the government and aid agencies.
The Taliban, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying its members will help the people in any way possible. The group claims that their finance commission has allocated five million afghanis to help the flood victims. Meanwhile, Saeedullah Nuristani, head of the Nuristan Provincial Council, said that a humanitarian catastrophe had occurred in Mirdesh village, Kamdesh district, and that all aid agencies should work with the flood victims. Nuristani acknowledged that the floods had destroyed the entire village and that no one from the village was left to bury the dead.
“More than 100 people have died in the village of Mirdesh,” the head of the Nuristan Provincial Council told Hashte Subh daily. “There is no one to bury them now, and at the moment there is no one in the area to help the injured people except the paramilitary teams.” A number of members of the Nuristan Provincial Council are calling on government and international aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to the affected people in Kamdesh district.
On Sunday too, Nuristan will see rain. The Meteorological Department of the Civil Aviation Authority forecast that 10 provinces of the country will see heavy rains with floods on Sunday. These provinces include Nuristan, Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Panjshir and Logar, including Salang pass in Parwan province. Rainfall in these provinces is expected to be between 10 and 30 mm.
Meanwhile, in other news, grape yields in Balkh province have increased significantly compared to last year. Officials at the Balkh Department of Agriculture said that grape yields have increased by about 30 percent this year compared to last year. Mohammad Salem Saei, director of agriculture in Balkh, said that between 15 and 18 metric grapes per hectare will be harvested this year.
Saei states that the reason for the increase in grape yields in Balkh is the provision of regular training to farmers, the construction of new vineyards, standardization of grape growing and distribution of modified grape vines to farmers. Balkh has 3,500 hectares of vineyards and 25 types of grapes are grown in this province. Balkh is one of the provinces in northern Afghanistan where most of the inhabitants are engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and horticulture. Grapes are one of the agricultural items in the province from which farmers earn a good income every year. In recent years, more than 100 vineyards have been established in Balkh, and the province has become a good market for northern grapes. Saei stated that the yield per hectare of land in Balkh is between 15 to 18 metric tons of grapes. He adds that the market is also good for grapes and this fruit has good value in the market.