Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: At least 245,000 marginal and food insecure people will be reached in 33 districts across 11 provinces of Afghanistan through the additional USD4.8 million provided by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which is supporting FAO in its efforts to anticipate the negative effects on livestock production induced by the current La Niña weather event.
“FAO has the technical expertise and ability to timely deliver this critical assistance to the most vulnerable in rural and remote areas of Afghanistan,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Humanitarian and UN Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan.
“CERF funding has been key to cover large under-funded gaps in the beginning and throughout the whole pandemic, and it played a catalytical role to attract and enable further funding,” said Rajendra Aryal, FAO Representative in Afghanistan.
Herders and livestock owners will be provided with emergency livestock protection and cash assistance in order to safeguard their livelihoods and food and nutrition security. FAO estimates that 1,225,000 people may indirectly benefit from this intervention.
This new intervention complements other FAO ongoing operations across the country to mitigate the impact of La Niña. These efforts aim to build the necessary near-term resilience to withstand the upcoming impacts, which are expected to hit hard during the lean season, as of September-October.
The complex and recurrent weather event La Niña has caused eight out of the eleven previous droughts in Afghanistan.
Kabul: Regional security issues, especially developments regarding the Afghan peace process were the focal points of discussion during a meeting between Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) UK Army, General Sir Patrick Nicholas and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters (GHQ), a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated on Monday.
General Patrick acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army’s sincere efforts in the fight against terrorism and efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region, especially the Afghan Peace Process.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other leaders in Kabul on Monday, sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
According to Reuters, it was not immediately clear what was discussed during the meeting. However, neighbouring Pakistan is regarded as a key player in the Afghan peace process. In the past Islamabad has been accused of harbouring the Taliban, but in recent years, Washington and other Western powers have acknowledged its efforts to push the militant group to take part in peace talks.
In recent weeks, Taliban and diplomatic sources told Reuters, Pakistan has been negotiating with insurgents to try and get them to commit to a ceasefire, agree to an extension of the US-Taliban agreement which stipulated forces should withdraw by May, and to continue to take part in peace talks at a planned conference in Turkey.
Violence has risen starkly in Afghanistan in recent weeks with the Taliban launching attacks throughout the country.
The Taliban announced on Sunday night that they would commit to a three-day ceasefire for Eid later this week.
Kabul: At least six soldiers have been killed after an army outpost fell to the Taliban as a result of an attack by insurgents on the outskirts of Farah city at 2:30am on Monday, said Shah Mahmood Naeemi, deputy head of the Farah Provincial Council.
He added that the Taliban had also detonated a car bomb at the army outpost and said that a number of the security forces had been captured by the Taliban.
He stated that 17 people were stationed at the outpost.
Meanwhile, Khair Mohammad Noorzai, another member of the Farah Provincial Council, said that six Taliban soldiers were killed, four had been wounded and several others were captured.
The insurgents took all the equipment of the outpost with them.
The Taliban claims that 18 government soldiers were killed in the attack. Yusuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesperson, said that the group had also taken five government soldiers with them.
Kabul: At least two people have been killed and 14 others were injured after two oadside explosion in the province, said Qasim Sangin, head of the Parwan Civil Hospital on Monday morning.
Sangin added that the second explosion took place an hour after a number of civilians had gathered in the area where the first explosion took place. The second explosion injured five people and three of them were in critical condition.
The chief doctors of Parwan Civil Hospital said that all the victims of this incident are civilians.
Meanwhile, a car collided with a roadside mine in Zabul province on Monday morning, killing 11 people and injuring 25 others.
Kabul: Condemning the attack on the Sayyid al-Shuhada girls’ school in western Kabul, members of the House of Representatives, said that security of educational institutions should be maintained and identification and punishment of the perpetrators of the attacks should be done immediately, while addressing security issues at a plenary session on Monday.
Abdul Qayyum Sajjadi, a member of the House of Representatives, said that national mourning by the government was not enough and that practical measures should be taken to prevent the massacre of a certain ethnic group. Nader Khan Katawazi, another member of parliament, said the attack on the school was an attack on all Afghans.
“The attack was conducted to divide the religions and ethnicities of Afghanistan. The enemy is the enemy and does not show mercy to any ethnic group or religion,” Katawazi said.
“No one is taking responsibility for the attacks, the government itself is to blame, and we saw this in the resurrection movement,” said Ramazan Bashardost, a member of parliament. The people do not believe in the government, the Taliban or ISIS. International experts should come to Afghanistan and investigate who are behind these attacks,” he added.
Shahgol Rezaei, another member of the House of Representatives, called the attack a genocide and said that given the attacks in western Kabul over the past few years, there was no doubt that it was a genocide.
Aref Rahmani, Ghazni’s representative in the House of Representatives, also said, “We understand that all the people of Afghanistan have been harmed by terrorists; but the systematic and targeted killings in a particular area over the past five years are unprecedented in Afghanistan’s history. This is genocide.”
Rahmani called on the National Directorate of Security to expose the perpetrators of the attacks in western Kabul over the past few years.
On the other hand, Shahpour Hassanzavi, Logar’s representative in the House of Representatives, said at the meeting that Iran was responsible for the attack and that Iranian spies were also present in the House of Representatives.
Shahpour Hassanzavi’s speech was met with a sharp reaction from members of the House of Representatives, after which the plenary session of the House went into chaos.
Abdul Qayyum Sajjadi, a member of the House of Representatives, responded to Shahpour Hassanzavi’s, saying, “We expect our colleagues in the House to offer condolences, not to add salt to our wounds.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives, stressed that this House represents national unity, and that the members should refrain from destructive speeches.
Meanwhile in other news, Kandahar representative at the Lower House of Parliament Gul Ahmad Kamin said that 70 percent of the country’s income goes to one person’s pocket, adding that he has documents and evidence in this regard.
Referring to President Ghani, the Kandahar MP said that if he could not limit the war, control drug production and control poverty, he would have to control corruption.
Gul Ahmad Kamin says that controlling the corruption is the “responsibility” of the president. Addressing President Ghani, he said: “There is a thief among your ministers, a thief among your governors, and a thief among your commanders and chiefs.”
He added, “Right now, 70% of the income goes to one person’s pocket. Corruption accounts for 50% of spending.”
Meanwhile, Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said in the closing remarks of the House of Representatives, quoting Gul Ahmad Kamin, that the government must seriously fight corruption.
Rahmani added, “As Kamin said, financial corruption is concerning.” The Speaker of the House of Representatives also asked Kamin to present its documents to the National Assembly.
The Afghan government has not yet commented on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Herat civil society activists have called the attack on the school a “genocide of the Hazara people” and called for the perpetrators of the “bloody” attack to be identified and arrested.
“The Hazara generation has always suffered in the history of Afghanistan,” Jalil Faizan, a Herat civil activist, said. The genocide of the Hazara people has continued since the reign of Amir Abdul Rahman Khan. We hope that the genocide will not be repeated.”
Ghulam Farooq Rasab, another civilian activist in Herat, called the attack on civilians “a crime against humanity” and stressed that such attacks should be stopped.
Kabul: The National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives launched an operation to seize a nine-member Taliban cell in Kabul and Mohammad Nasser, Mohammad Juma, Shirullah, Saifullah, Abdul Ahad, Sharafatullah, Rahmatullah and Abdullah were arrested, as per a NDS statement on Monday.
According to the statement, these individuals were involved in terrorist activities and targeted assassinations of civilians, government employees and security forces in Kabul on the orders of the Taliban leadership.
The statement said that these individuals were involved in six cases of transferring and planting magnetic mines and throwing hand grenades at security checkpoints in PDs of 12th and 19th of Kabul city.
The (NDS) said that the men obtained all their weapons and explosives from a Taliban commander in Laghman province.
The NDS added that the cell was trying to launch a series of targeted assassinations in Kabul.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 340 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 12 deaths and 150 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 62,403, while the number of reported deaths is 2,710 and the total number of recoveries is 54,382.
There are currently 5,311 active cases of coronavirus across the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has performed 422,649 Covid-19 tests since the outbreak of the disease.
Kabul: At least four police officials have been killed in a Taliban infiltrator attack at 2am on Monday in the village of Tilk Kasi, north of Firuzkuh, the capital of the Ghor province, said Zalmai Karimi, spokesperson for the governor of Ghor.
Karimi also said that the Taliban infiltrator had shot dead the policemen and bodies of the soldiers were taken to Ghor Provincial Hospital.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
Earlier, Ghor Governor Abdul Zahir Feizzadeh said that security threats on the outskirts of Firuzkuh had been minimized.
Kabul: In more grim news coming in, the death toll from a bomb attack outside a school in the Afghan capital of Kabul has risen to 68, officials said, even as doctors are struggling to care for the 165 injured victims and families searching desperately for their missing children.
The neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, home to a large community of Shiites from the Hazara ethnic group, witnessed three explosions on Saturday after a car bomb was detonated in front of the Sayed Al-Shuhada school and two more bombs exploded when students rushed out in panic.
Officials said most of those killed were schoolgirls. “The first blast was powerful and happened so close to the children that some of them could not be found,” an Afghan official, aware of the developments, but requesting anonymity, said.
There has been widespread condemnation regarding the attack, with some organizations even asking for concrete actions. The Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the attack while the Taliban denied the allegations and also condemned the attack.
Meanwhile, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Dr Youssef A. Al-Othaimeen expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathy with relatives of the victims of the blast. He added that OIC stands against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, regardless of its motives and causes.
He also voiced OIC’s absolute support and solidarity with Afghanistan in its fight against the scourge of terrorism. In New Delhi, too, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India has always supported the education of Afghan youth and remains committed to the development of the country.
India called the attack “barbarous” and said that the incident demonstrated the urgent need for dismantling terrorist sanctuaries and for a nation-wide ceasefire.
Kabul: A three-day ceasefire has been declared in Afghanistan by the Taliban to mark this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, just two days after the government blamed the group for bombs outside a school that killed more than 50 people, mostly schoolgirls.
“Mujahideen of the Taliban are instructed to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid,” a statement released on Monday stated, adding, that “if the enemy conducts any assault or attack against you during these days, stand ready to robustly protect and defend yourselves and your territory.”
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the holiday begins according to the sighting of the new moon.
The Afghan government has put the onus on the Taliban for the attack outside a girls’ school in Dasht-e-Barchi, a suburb of the capital largely populated by the Shia Hazara community, which is often targeted by extremist Sunni Islamist militants.
The Taliban denied it was involved in the attack, the deadliest in the country in more than a year. Saturday’s blasts came as the US continues to pull out its troops from the country.
Meanwhile, violence continues unabated as at least 13 civilians have been killed and 37 more have been wounded in separate roadside bomb blasts in Zabul and Parwan provinces, Ministry of Interior and officials said on Monday.
In Zabul, 11 civilians were killed and 28 more were wounded in a roadside bomb blast that targeted a passenger’s bus in Shahr-e-Safa district in the province on Sunday evening, Interior Ministry said, adding that “the bomb was placed by the Taliban.”
Also, two civilians were killed and nine more were wounded in a roadside bomb blast that targeted a bus in Pul-e-Matak area in Parwan province on Monday morning, health officials said.
“The wounded were taken to nearby hospital,” said Dr. Qasim Sangin, head of Parwan hospital. “Women and children are among the wounded.”
No group, including the Taliban, has so far claimed responsibility for the blasts.