Tolo News – Blast at President Ghani campaign rally kills 24, wounds 30

Wahida Shahkar, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says the blast was caused by an IED in a security vehicle.

Charikar – Parwan Province – Afghanistan, 17 September 2019. An explosion occurred midday as President Ghani began speaking at a campaign rally in the city of Charikar, in Parwan province. 24 people are reported killed, and over 30 wounded.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS ?
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Tolo News – Negotiations impossible without ceasefire: Ghani

President Ghani says the Afghan government is ready to continue peace negotiations.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 09 September 2019. President Ashraf Ghani, who addressed a ceremony on the appointment of the new head of the National Directorate of Security, said that the Afghan government is ready to continue peace negotiations, but they are not possible without a ceasefire.

“Our way is clear. We have chosen sustainable and dignified peace and we will not go back,” Mr Ghani said. “Negotiations [with the Taliban] are impossible without a ceasefire.”

He said that the people want peace and that the ownership of the process is by Afghans. “We created national and international consensus on peace. We created the environment for peace, but the Taliban took it wrong,” he said.

Mr Ghani said the Afghan government has a proper plan for peace and is strengthening its regional and international relations in this respect. He said that the Islami Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan forces will not be compromised in the peace process.

Mr Ghani said that the Taliban has safe havens in other countries, without naming a specific country. “If you [the Taliban] will leave these relations, you will be embraced by Afghans. You will be embraced by Afghans if you leave drugs business,” he said.

President Ghani called on all political elites in Afghanistan to show their commitment to the Afghan people and build a proper relationship. He assured the nation that peace will come but it will be a real peace which is the main demand of Afghans.

Mr Ghani said that election is the only solution for “the inherited crisis” of the past four decades. This comes as US President Donald Trump called off negotiations with the Taliban.

His decision was faced with mixed reaction among Afghan politicians and the ordinary Afghans.

Tolo News – Six people released from Taliban prison in Ghazni

The Ministry of Defense says the operation was conducted in Giro district in Ghazni Province.

Ghazni – Ghazni Province – Afghanistan, 30 August 2019. At least six civilians were released from a Taliban prison in a special operation by the Afghan National Army in the central province of Ghazni.

The operation was conducted in Giro district, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The statement said that a Taliban fighter was arrested and a weapons cache belonged to the group was destroyed during the operation.

The Hindu – Ready to open Kartarpur Corridor, says Pakistan

Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead, says Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 23 August 2019. Pakistan on Friday said that despite tensions with India, it stands ready to open the Kartarpur Corridor and welcome the Sikh pilgrims to take part in celebrations in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said this while speaking to a delegation of civil society and parliamentarians of Afghanistan, which is currently visiting Pakistan for the ‘Track-II dialogue, Beyond Boundaries’

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

“Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead with Kartarpur Corridor and we stand ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak,” Mr. Qureshi told the delegation.

Connecting Karturpur with Gurdaspur

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

Mr Qureshi also told the delegation that current tension with India will not affect Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan. Border (with Afghanistan) will not be closed nor trade will stop.

“Despite tensions with India, Pakistan is totally focused on the situation and its role in Afghanistan. It (Kashmir situation) can be a huge distraction but we are very clear what we need to do in Afghanistan”, he added while responding to a question if escalation of tension with India can distract Pakistan.

Mr Qureshi told the delegation that he had invited the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s and China for a trilateral meeting. The Foreign Minister will come to Pakistan in the first week of September for the talks, he added.

Tolo News – Residents set fire to Taliban’s stronghold in Parwan

The Taliban’s stronghold is located in Shinwari district, Parwan governor’s spokesperson said.

Shinwari – Parwan – Afghanistan, 22 August 2019. A group of local residents torched a stronghold of the Taliban in the central province of Parwan on Wednesday, a local official confirmed.

The stronghold was located in Qala-e-Qorhir village in Shinwari district of Parwan Province, a spokesperson for Parwan governor Wahida Shahkar said.

She said a number of weapons and explosives were also destroyed in the incident and the Taliban fighters left the area.

There were no causalities to the Taliban, she said.

Taliban has not commented on this incident.

Dawn – Another prayer-leader killed near Quetta

Quetta – Balochistan – Pakistan, 18 August 2019. A day after a prayer leader was killed in Kuchlak, another imam was gunned down in the same area on the outskirts of the provincial capital on Saturday.

Hafiz Hamdullah, the imam who was killed on Friday just before the weekly prayers in a bomb blast at his Al-Haj mosque, was said to be a brother of Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhun­dzada. A total of four people were killed in the explosion.

Police said on Saturday that Muhammad Azam, who was the imam of Usman bin Afaan mosque of Kuchlak, was killed in what looked like a targeted attack.

The prayer leader was sitting in a shop in Kuchlak town when some men opened fire on him, before fleeing from the crime scene on their motorbike, police said.

Maulvi Azam received multiple bullet injuries and succumbed to his wounds on the spot, they said.

“The 50-year-old man was an Afghan citizen and had been the prayer leader of the Usman bin Afaan mosque for many years,” a police officer said, adding that he used to live in a house close to the mosque.

Police said that investigations were under way in the case.

Till the filing of this report no group or individual had claimed responsibility for the killing.

The Afghan Taliban, meanwhile, said the killing of their chief’s brother in an explosion on Friday would not derail talks with the United States aimed at securing the withdrawal of US troops after 18 years of war, Reuters reported.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bomb blast that came after both the Taliban and US officials reported progress in talks on an agreement centred on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban security guarantee.

“If someone thinks martyring our leaders would stop us from our goal they’re living in a fool’s paradise,” a Taliban leader said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“We are close to our goals,” he said, referring to the talks with the United States. He declined to be identified.

Tolo News – Afghan civilians suffering remains far too high: ICRC

The ICRC calls on all parties to the conflict to do more to prevent injuries and deaths to Afghans

Kabul – Kabul Province, 12 August 2019. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a report that the ongoing peace talks have not diminished the intensity of violence in Afghanistan and its impact on civilians as the civilian casualties remained high.

The report said that the air bombardments, night raids, and attacks conducted in both rural and populated areas result in the killing and maiming of women, men, and children who had no part in the fighting.

“Homes, mosques, schools, markets and health care facilities are being hit,” it said.

“Too little attention is being paid to the suffering of civilians. They must be protected and respected at all times”, said ICRC’s head of delegation in Afghanistan, Juan-Pedro Schaerer in the report.

The ICRC calls on all parties to the conflict that the medical workers, too, must be protected and respected by all sides.

Attacks against health care providers and facilities are too high, with 59 incidents in the first half of 2019. All sides must allow patients unhindered access to health services regardless of their affiliation, it said.

Attacking a single doctor or nurse undermines life-saving healthcare for everyone. This must stop, said Schaerer.

The ICRC is also deeply concerned about the fate of people detained by all sides in relation to the conflict, regardless of the side which is holding them.

“Detainees must have access to health care, to basics such as clean water, clothing, and hygiene items, and contact with their families,” according to the report.

Though humanitarian needs continue to grow, the security situation makes it difficult for help to reach those in need of food, water, shelter and security, it said.

This year has seen the highest number of incidents involving humanitarian workers in last few years, it added.

Tolo News – UN reports record number of Afghan civilian deaths in July

The UN says that parties must ensure compliance with their obligations under international law.

تصویر بندانگشتی

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 04 August 2019. The United Nations in Afghanistan reminds all parties to the conflict of their responsibility to protect civilians and to comply with their obligations under international law, as the latest UN documentation shows that civilian casualty rates returned to record high levels in the month of July.

Civilians bore the brunt of escalating violence in July, with preliminary UN findings showing that more than 1,500 civilians were killed and injured, the highest number of any month this year, and the highest number documented in a single month since May 2017, the UN said in a statement.

UN says the main driver in July was a sharp rise in civilian casualties caused by anti-government elements.

“As peace efforts have intensified in recent weeks so too has the conflict on the ground,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

“I call on all parties not to ramp up military operations thinking that doing so will give them a stronger position in talks about peace,” he said. “Escalating the conflict will have one primary result: greater loss of civilian life. Now is the time to demonstrate restraint and real respect for the lives of ordinary Afghan civilians.”

UNAMA documented an increase through July in the number of disproportionate and indiscriminate Taliban attacks in urban areas against Afghan military and security objects and personnel.

According to the statement, these attacks caused great harm to civilians. On 1 July, Taliban claimed an attack on an Afghan Army logistics center in Kabul killing seven civilians and injuring 144 others.

Taliban also claimed responsibility for the 18 July attack on a Kandahar police facility resulting in seven civilians killed and 72 others injured, the statement says.

In Ghazni, on 7 July, Taliban attacked a National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility resulting in 174 civilian casualties, the vast majority of whom were injured. More than 80 of the victims were children, the UN statement says.

UNAMA remains gravely concerned by the harm done to civilians from anti-government elements’ attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the statement says. The use of IEDs by anti-government elements was responsible for more than 50 percent of civilian casualties in July.

The UN is particularly appalled by numerous incidents when anti-government elements have deliberately targeted civilians.

According to the UN report, Daesh claimed a 25 July suicide attack in Kabul against a Ministry of Mines and Petroleum bus and an explosion targeting first responders. Seven civilians were killed, including six women and a three-year-old boy, with 32 others injured.

On 19 July, eight civilians were killed and 36 injured when attackers focused on civilians at Kabul University. Deliberately targeting civilians or civilian objects amounts to a war crime, the UN says in the statement.

There were several high-profile attacks in July for which no party claimed responsibility, such as the 28 July complex attack that used remote-controlled and suicide IEDs against the Green Trend offices in Kabul. In this attack, which targeted the Afghan electoral process, at least 21 civilians were killed and 50 others injured, the UN statement says.

Other types of antigovernment elements-employed IEDs that caused significant loss of civilian life during July were victim-activated pressure-plate IEDs (PPIED) that are inherently indiscriminate.

The UN report says that on 15 July, 13 civilians were killed and 40 injured, mostly women and children, when a minibus ran over a PPIED near Kandahar. On 30 July, at least 24 civilians were killed and 18 more injured when a PPIED detonated against a bus on the Kandahar-Herat highway.

Meanwhile, the UN statement says that civilian casualties from operations by Pro-Government Forces (PGFs) remain at concerning levels, mainly from air and search operations, including by NDS Special Forces that are supported by International Military Forces.

In Maiden Wardak overnight from 8 to 9 July, NDS special forces entered a medical clinic and interrogated health workers.

NDS special forces shot and killed three civilian males, two of whom worked at the clinic and one of whom was accompanying a patient.

On 19 July, in Bala Murghab district, Badghis province, pro-government forces conducted an airstrike that hit a residential home and resulted in the deaths of seven civilians, including three children and one woman, with three more civilians injured, including a baby.

The UN says that parties must ensure compliance with their obligations under international law.

UNAMA urges all parties to the conflict to strengthen their engagement with the United Nations and reminds them of their responsibility to protect civilians.

The Asian Age – Explosive-laden vehicle detonates in Afghanistan’s Ghazni, Taliban claims attack

Taliban claimed that the incident has caused massive casualties and damages to the base

Ghazni – Ghazni Province – Afghanistan, 28 July 2019. Just a day after a suicide attack targetted Afghanistan’s Ghazni, another explosive-laden car detonated in the province’s Ab Band district early Sunday morning, a local source told Sputnik.

“The car bombing occurred today early morning in Ab Band District in Ghazni province early morning close to an Afghan forces base,” the source said.

The casualty figure is yet to be confirmed.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that the incident has caused massive casualties and damages to the base.

On Saturday, another Taliban-perpetrated attack saw an explosive-laden vehicle targeting the district, killing at least three policemen and wounding 12 others.

Aljazeera – Three blasts rock Afghanistan’s Kabul, killing more than a dozen.

Kabul – Kabul Province, 25 July 2019. At least 15 killed in three attacks in Afghan capital, with one bomb hitting a bus carrying government employees.

Three explosions have rocked Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, killing a total of at least 15 people and wounding dozens of others, according to officials.

Eight employees of the ministry of mines and petroleum were killed and 27 wounded in an attack on their bus, ministry officials said in a statement on Thursday.

Five women and a child were among the dead.

Minutes after the blast, a suicide bomber blew himself up a few meters away, killing at least seven people and wounding 20.

“First a magnetic bomb pasted to a minibus exploded, then a suicide bomber blew himself near the bus attack site and the third blast happened when a car was blown up by unknown militants,” said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman of the interior ministry in Kabul.

“The death toll could rise from all the three blasts,” he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bomb alone, but denied involvement in the other attacks which were later claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said nine foreign forces were killed in the car bomb attack and two vehicles destroyed, but government officials did not confirm the Taliban claim.

ISIL said on the Telegram channels affiliated to the group that it targeted an Afghan government vehicle before detonating another explosive when Afghan security forces arrived to assist.

The Taliban has continued to launch daily assaults, mainly targeting security forces, even while holding negotiations with the United States aimed at ending the 18-year war.

The US is negotiating for an accord that would see foreign forces pull out of the country in return for various Taliban security guarantees, including a pledge that Afghanistan will not become a safe haven for armed groups.

Some observers say the Taliban are increasing attacks to gain greater leverage in the talks.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, seven civilians – six women and a child – were killed in a roadside bombing in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, the provincial governor’s office said.

Four others, including one woman, were injured in Thursday’s incident, which took place in Khogyani district.

The roadside bomb struck a mini-bus carrying a family that was heading to a wedding, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Khogyani attack.

Meanwhile, at least 35 policemen have been killed in a Taliban attack on facilities in Afghanistan’s northern province of Takhar, former district governor Sayed Mehrabuddin told DPA.

At least 12 people, including six policemen, were also injured in the five-hour-long battle on Wednesday night in Ishkamish district, he said.

However, another official, provincial council member Mawlawi Keramatullah, said that the death toll was as high as 43 policemen with nine others missing. He said Taliban fighters overran the base and destroyed it before leaving.