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Friendly fire by US missile kills 16 Afghan policemen

KANDAHAR (AFP) – A US airstrike killed 16 Afghan police and wounded two others in Helmand province, officials said Saturday.

The incident took place Friday 5 pm as Afghan security forces were clearing a village of Taliban elements, Salam Afghan, Helmand police spokesman, told AFP.

“In the strike, 16 Afghan policemen were killed including two commanders. Two other policemen were wounded,” he said.

Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial governor spokesman, confirmed the strike and gave the same account.

It occurred in Gereshk district in Helmand, large parts of which are under Taliban control.

NATO’s mission in Afghanistan issued a statement.

“During a US-supported (Afghan security) operation, aerial fires resulted in the deaths of the friendly Afghan forces who were gathered in a compound,” it said.

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families affected by this unfortunate incident,” the statement said, adding there would be a probe into what happened.

The US is the only foreign force in the coalition conducting airstrikes in Afghanistan.

Acting interior ministry spokesman Najeeb Danish gave a lower death toll than the provincial officials.

“The toll we have received is that unfortunately as a result of the strike, we have 12 police forces martyred and no one wounded,” Danish told AFP.

He said a ministry delegation had been sent to the area to investigate the incident and help families of the victims.

There have been a series of incidents involving US airstrikes and Afghans.

In February, a US airstrike in Sangin killed at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children.

Last November 32 Afghan civilians were killed in a US airstrike in the northeastern province of Kunduz.

In October 2015, a US air strike during fighting hit a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres, killing 42 people and sparking international outrage.

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16 Afghan policemen killed in US airstrike

HELMAND (AFP): A US airstrike killed 16 Afghan police and wounded two others in Helmand province, officials said Saturday.

The incident took place Friday as Afghan security forces were clearing a village of Taliban elements, Salam Afghan, Helmand police spokesman, told AFP.

“In the strike, 16 Afghan policemen were killed including two commanders,” he said.

“Two other policemen were wounded,” he added.

Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial governor spokesman, confirmed the strike and gave the same account.

It occurred in Gereshk district in Helmand, large parts of which are under Taliban control.

“During a US-supported (Afghan security) operation, aerial fires resulted in the deaths of the friendly Afghan forces who were gathered in a compound,” a Nato mission in Afghanistan said in a statement..

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families affected by this unfortunate incident,” it said, adding there would be a probe into what happened.

The US is the only foreign force in the coalition conducting airstrikes in Afghanistan.

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4 dead, 23 wounded in traffic accidents

PUL-I-KHUMRI/MAIMANA (Pajhwok): At least four individuals have been killed and 23 others wounded in three separate traffic accidents in northern Baghlan and Faryab provinces, officials said on Saturday.

Faryab Traffic Management head Karimullah said five people were injured on Friday when a car bumped into two vehicles parked in the Chahar Samawar Square area of Lodin Street.

“In a second accident, a police pick-up collided with a car in the limits of the second police district, resulting in the death of a 60-year-old salesman and injuries to a young man,” he added.

Karimullah linked the accidents to recklessness driving. Zabihullah Shuja, Baghlan police spokesman, said three people including a woman were killed and 17 others wounded in the Silo neighbourhood of Pul-i-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan.

He said the accident took place when a Corolla car heading from Shamraq to Pul-i-Kumri veered off the road and collided with a truck.

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Afghan forces seize 1,400 kgs of Ammonium Nitrate from Torkham-Jalalabad highway

JALALABAD (NNI): The Afghan national defense and security forces have seized around one thousand and four hundred kilograms of Ammonium Nitrate from the main highway between Torkham and Jalalabad city.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the chemicals were placed inside a lorry and the militants were looking to transport it to an unknown location for the manufacturing of explosives, mainly the Improvised Explosive Devices used in roadside bombings.

“Afghan National Police (ANP) seized 1400 kilos of Ammonium Nitrate, a key component used to make Improvised Explosive Devices,” the statement by MoI said, adding that the Ammonium Nitrate was placed in a truck transporting goods to Afghanistan.

MoI also added that the police searched the truck and found the Ammonium Nitrate hidden under the goods in Torkham port, eastern Nangarhar province. One suspect was arrested on accusation of this case and an investigation was underway into the case, MoI added. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to other insurgent groups frequently use improvised explosive devices as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government personnel but in majority of such attacks the ordinary civilians are targeted.

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Ghani orders sweeping changes to Kabul Police

KABUL (TOLONews): Afghan Ministry of Interior Spokesman Najib Danish on Tuesday said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called for broad changes to be brought to the Kabul police structures.

In a statement, Danish said, “Based on the President’s orders, all officers at Police District level, in the capital, will be rotated out to provinces.”

“This forms part of the plans to secure the capital and districts of Kabul but officers that have performed well will be promoted,” he said. “As part of reforms in the Kabul police administration, we will set up a new team and new staff who can better serve Kabul but Members of Parliament (MPs) have called for transparency regarding the change-over process,” he added.

Meanwhile, Shekiba Hahimi MP stated that, “The bitter experiences have shown that some were inefficient and instead of being dismissed because they failed to even file a case, they got sent to provinces where their records made the province’s security worse.”

In addition, military experts believe that if any policemen were negligent in their duties, their transfer to provinces will not help ensure the safety of provinces.

“Wherever a security officer is posted, they should stay there for at least three years in order to become familiar with the area and their police department,” said Mosa Akbar, a military expert.

The ministry said so far more than one hundred Kabul police officers have been sent to provinces and the process will continue.

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Afghan, Indian FMs call for effective anti-terror cooperation

KABUL (AFP): Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Tuesday spoke to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj discussed bilateral issues, including holding the meeting of Afghanistan-India Strategic Partnership Council and Afghanistan-India Air Corridor.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said the two sides also spoke extensively about trilateral meetings of Afghanistan, India and the U.S., as well as Afghanistan, India and Iran and emphasized the practical implementation of trilateral agreement.

During the Monday’s evening telephone conversation, Minister Rabbani pointed out to the common regional threats, and expressed hope that a constructive and active cooperation between Afghanistan and India will be effective towards fighting terrorism, ensuring security, peace and sustainable development in the region.

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Civilian deaths in Afghan war record high, says UN

KABUL (AFP): The people of war-torn Afghanistan continue to bear the brunt of the grinding conflict with civilian deaths at their worst since records began, the United Nations said on Monday.

In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured with deaths in the capital Kabul accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the toll, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report.

The majority of the victims were killed by anti-government forces — including the resurgent Taliban and in attacks claimed by IS, the report said, underscoring spiralling insecurity in the country nearly 16 years after the US invasion. The UN has documented civilian casualties in the war-ravaged country since 2009.

The first six months of the year have seen a significant rise in the number of civilian lives lost in highly coordinated attacks involving more than one perpetrator, with 259 killed and 892 injured — a 15 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Many of those deaths happened in a single attack in Kabul in late May when a truck bomb exploded during the morning rush hour, killing more than 150 people and injuring hundreds.

UNAMA put the civilian death toll at 92, saying it was the deadliest incident to hit the country since 2001.
The UN’s special envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said the human cost of the conflict remains “far too high”.

“The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop,” he added in a statement. Women and children have borne the brunt of the increase in civilian casualties, with UNAMA blaming the use of IEDs and aerial operations in populated areas for the jump.

A total of 174 women were killed and 462 injured — an overall rise in casualties of 23 per cent on last year — while 436 children were killed in the same period, representing a nine per cent increase. Save the Children expressed alarm at the heavy toll — a third of all civilian deaths — on the country’s youth.

“It’s extremely concerning to see the number of children killed and injured by conflict increasing, reflecting the growing danger faced by young Afghans,” the charity’s Afghanistan country director David Skinner said in a statement.

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Dostum plane stopped from landing in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan — During nearly two months of de facto exile in Turkey, Afghanistan’s embattled vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, hastily formed a new coalition of the discontented. On Monday, he tried to return to Afghanistan, to add to the woes of his own struggling president.

But as hundreds of supporters waited late into the night at an airport in the country’s north, the small private plane carrying Mr. Dostum, an ex-warlord accused of torturing and sexually assaulting a political rival, was denied permission to land on orders from the central government, according to several Afghan and Western officials.

The episode is likely to deepen Afghanistan’s already turbulent political crisis, testing the limits of a politician who has been volatile in the past and who has threatened to turn his wrath against President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which he helped bring to power but which he now accuses of marginalizing him.

“There were about 500 to 1,000 people waiting for him, and we waited for three hours,” said Raees Abdul Khaliq, a member of the Balkh provincial council who was at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to greet Mr. Dostum on Monday night. “The central government, against all the laws of Afghanistan and the world, against the fact that the president cannot rule an ordinary citizen — let alone the vice president — a criminal until proven by a court, told the plane not to land.”

The episode was confirmed by one of Mr. Dostum’s senior commanders, as well as officials close to Atta Muhammad Noor, the powerful governor of Balkh Province — a onetime rival of Mr. Dostum who recently joined his new alliance of politicians united in anger at the coalition government headed by Mr. Ghani. The officials, who, like others quoted for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that after nearly two hours of confusion, the plane turned back and was believed to have landed in Turkmenistan.

On Tuesday morning, however, the offices of both Mr. Dostum and Mr. Noor issued statements denying that the incident had occurred. Mr. Noor’s office said the plane had been carrying Turkish “special guests” of the governor, not the vice president, and that because of technical difficulties it had landed in Turkmenistan before entering Afghan airspace.

A senior government official, however, said officials in Kabul had become suspicious of the small plane, which was said to be carrying seven businessmen. The authorities asked the plane to land in Kabul for processing before going to Mazar-i-Sharif, and its reluctance to comply confirmed the suspicion that Mr. Dostum was aboard, said the official.

Asif Mohmand, another member of the provincial council in Balkh, who was not at the airport but spoke to people who had been there, said that NATO forces in Mazar-i-Sharif had denied the plane permission to land after consulting with the central government.

“The foreigners said, ‘It’s impossible — you should get in touch with Kabul, once they O.K. it, we will welcome him.’ But the central government asked the plane to land in Kabul and not Mazar, then after much commotion Mr. Dostum landed in Turkmenistan.”

A Western official said Mr. Noor, while waiting at the airport and trying to calm the crowd, had called the commander of the coalition forces in the north seeking permission for Mr. Dostum to land. The governor was told that the decision was up to the central government, not the coalition forces, the official said.

 

 

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5 of a family killed, 5 injured in Uruzgan airstrike

TIRINKOT (Pajhwok): Five civilians have been killed and five others wounded as a result of an airstrike in Tirinkot, the capital of central Uruzgan province, resident and hospital sources said on Sunday.

Ezzatullah, an inhabitant of the area, told Pajhwok Afghan News the airstrike was carried out in the Muradabad area of the city on Saturday evening. But he was unaware who conducted the raid.

He said five members of a family, including a woman and children, were killed and three others belonging to another family injured during the bombardment.

Tirinkot Civil Hospital Director Dr. Ziaur Rahman, said five injured people had been brought to the hospital from the area. They are currently under treatment.

The provincial government and police department refused to comment on the airstrike, which came two days after 20 civilians suffered casualties in a similar incident in the Sajwal area of the city.

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Troops Set To Re-Take Helmand’s Nawa District

HELMAND (TOLONews): Afghan security forces on Sunday continued their operation to re-take Nawa district of southern Helmand province and are now only two kilometers from the district governor’s compound, local officials said on Sunday.

The operation was launched early Saturday to re-capture Nawa which fell to the Taliban about nine months ago, Omar Zwak said.

“Security forces have re-taken [a stretch of] 10 kilometers of Nawa and only two kilometers to the district governor’s compound is left. The forces are advancing in the battle against the insurgents and so far 18 insurgents including their commanders have been killed,” Zwak said.

“One security force member was also killed in the clash with the Taliban and six others were wounded,” he said adding that “there are no civilian casualties. Our priorities are to prevent civilian casualties.” Zwak also said that foreign troops are supporting the Afghan security forces by carrying out airstrikes on the affected area.

“Our operation is moving a little slowly because of mines that have been placed by the insurgents along the roads. So far we have defused 150 mines but by the end of the day we will take control of the district,” he said.

TOLOnews reporter, Abdullah Hamim who is with the security forces says “the mines are a key issue for the security forces and [in addition to mines] they have recovered explosive devices and weapons during the operation.”