Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Badakhshan officials said that the 180 girls who did not sit for the National University Entrance Exam (Kankor) due to Taliban threats, will be allowed to retake them on Sunday.
Akhtar Mohammad Khairzada, deputy governor of Badakhshan, told Reporterly on Saturday, that the female students, residents of Maimay (Darwaz) district of the province, were scheduled to sit for the exam in Shekay district.
However, traffic along the route was stopped by “armed opposition” and Taliban prevented them from travelling to the exam venue.
Badakhshan residents said the Taliban threatened to fine each girl who sat for the entrance exam, thousands of AFN.
A video featuring a number of girls who were not allowed to sit for the exams, went viral on social media, asking President Ashraf Ghani to take action.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi tweeted that the government was committed to providing facilities for the education of girls.
“The voice of the girls that were deprived by the Taliban in the Badakhshan entrance exam will be conveyed and the necessary measures will be taken through the responsible institutions,” Seddiqi wrote.
Provincial deputy Khairzada said that the Badakhshan government has spoken to the National Examination Office in the province and in the centre, to transfer the girls to the Shaghanan district for biometrics.
The biometric process will be completed today and the girls will be allowed to sit for the exams on Sunday, the official confirmed.
Kabul Police headquarters said an explosion took place in the Bagh-e-Bala area of PD2 of the Afghan capital, the fourth such explosion since Saturday morning.
The Ministry of Interior(MoI) said the IED was placed in a motorcycle and two people were wounded.
MoI spokesperson Tariq Arian called the explosions in the city, part of the Taliban’s “psychological war” to create fear among the people.
“We are at war with the Taliban in all areas of the country,” Arian said.
He added that the blasts were trying to create divisions between the people and the government.
Afghanistan has started work on legalizing the presence of their nationals in Iran, the Afghan ambassador to Tehran said on Saturday.
“A team from Afghanistan has travelled to Iran to work on the identity of refugees, issue ID cards for them and also electronic passports,” said ambassador Abdul Ghafoor Lival.
Lival also said the two countries would continue to work on the Comprehensive Document of Strategic Cooperation which was signed during the recent visit of a high-ranking Afghan delegation to Iran.
Presidential Palace spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said that the international community must condemn Taliban’s “horrific crime” of targeting the security forces.
“Recent Taliban attacks on the country’s security and defense forces reflect the narrative of war and the continuing escalation of violence by the group,” Sediqqi tweeted on Saturday.
“Targeting our military and our people by Taliban terror networks is a horrific crime that must be condemned by the international community.”
He added that the Taliban was disappointing the people who were hoping for peace.
With the increase in violence against security forces in the recent days, a Taliban spokesperson claimed that they killed or wounded 49 security forces and shot down a helicopter in the Raghistan district of Badakhshan.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said a pregnant woman, on her way to the hospital for her child’s delivery, was killed in an explosion on Aug. 20, along the Ghor-Kabul highway.
The AIHRC on Saturday, issued a statement that said six members of the family, along with the driver of the car, were among those killed in the explosion in the Badgah district of Ghor province.
The commission said the incident was caused by a roadside mine planted by the Taliban.
“The Commission condemns this tragic incident and urges the Taliban to respect international humanitarian law and to stop using such devices to protect the lives of civilians,” they tweeted.
The AIHRC also called on the government to identify the perpetrators of the “tragic event.”
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said 59 samples, out of the 328 tested, were found to be positive for Coronavirus in the past 24 hours in Afghanistan.
The MoPH said new cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (24), Herat (21), Balkh (11), nangarhar (1), Nuristan (1) and Kunar (1).
The total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country reached 37,953 people.
The MoPH added that no new recoveries or deaths were recorded in the past day.
Therefore, Afghanistan has 7,957 active cases of Coronavirus at the moment, with 27,990 recoveries and 2,006 deaths.
The Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan asked the Afghan government to strengthen the security for Uzbek nationals working in the country after an armed attack on Balkh.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar spoke to Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov on Aug. 20, where they discussed the attack on Sogdiana Trans, an Uzbek railway company, in Mazar-i-Sharif, earlier in the day.
Uzbekistan’s state railway company said that the deputy head of Sogdiana Trans’ coordination department, an Uzbek national, was attacked on his way to work. He was accompanied by a driver and his escort, a soldier of the Afghan Interior Ministry’s railway guard battalion.
They were attacked by unidentified gunmen, during which the Afghan guard and one of the assailants were killed. The Uzbek railway specialist was wounded and taken to the hospital.
“The Afghan Foreign Minister stressed that the details of the incident are being carefully investigated by the country’s authorities, and those who have been involved will be brought to justice,” the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said.
Kamilov asked for increased security for workers of Sogdiana, since they were operating and maintaining the Hairatan-Mazar-i-Sharif railway line.
The two foreign ministers also discussed Atmar’s upcoming visit to Uzbekistan and their efforts to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations.
The U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, said there was “no legitimate reason” for delaying the intra-Afghan peace negotiations with the Taliban.
In a series of tweets on Friday, the U.S. envoy condemned the killing of Abdul Baqi Amin, a peace activist, in a targeted explosion, and called the perpetrators “spoilers who seek to delay and derail Afghan peace.”
“Afghanistan lost Dr. Abdul Baqi Amin, a scholar with immense insights and an activist with an unshakable commitment to peace. His death at the hands of spoilers who seek to delay and derail Afghan peace is tragic,” he wrote.
“We condemn this terrorist act and offer our condolences to his family, friends and the Afghan people who yearn for peace. The right tribute to Dr. Amin is for all sides to reduce violence and immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations.”
The talks between the Afghan government’s peace negotiating team and the Taliban’s Qatar-based members were supposed to start last week but were postponed due to problems in the prisoner exchange process.
The government said they will release 320 Taliban prisoners, but were waiting for the militant group to release the 22 Afghan pilots and commandos held by them.
The Taliban insists that they have completed their part of the bargain as stated in the Doha Agreement signed with the U.S.
The prisoner release process has hit a wall while creating obstacles, with both sides insisting on the other to release all the detainees.
This has delayed the intra-Afghan talks several times.
China and Pakistan on Friday appreciated the efforts made by the Afghan government and the Taliban to initiate the intra-Afghan negotiations.
It came as a part of a joint statement issued after talks between China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Hainan, China, as part of the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.
Both sides emphasized the importance of an inclusive, broad-based, and comprehensive negotiated agreement for a future political settlement in Afghanistan and urged for the talks to start soon.
Reaffirming their commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, both the sides encouraged relevant parties in Afghanistan to seize this historic opportunity and commence the intra-Afghan negotiations at the earliest leading to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“China appreciated Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and efforts for promoting peace and stability in region and beyond,” said the statement.
The two partners also agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue.
Three explosions in the capital early on Saturday left one security personnel dead and four others wounded, including a civilian, said Kabul Police spokesperson Ferdowz Faramarz.
The first blast happened at around 6:30 am in Sarak-e-Naw area in Kabul’s PD7, when a magnetic mine placed inside a private vehicle exploded.
Kabul police said one security forces member was killed and two others, including a civilian, were wounded.
The second blast at the intersection of Hangarha Roundabout in Kabul’s PD15, took place at around 7:20 am, leaving two policemen wounded. The bomb targeted a police vehicle, officials said.
The third explosion happened in the Company area in Kabul’s PD5 and had no casualties, according to the Kabul Police spokesperson.