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At least five killed as militants attack Kabul’s hotel

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As many as five people were killed and six others were injured on Saturday night after the militants attacked Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel.

The militants seized hostages and started exchange of gunfire with security forces. The Afghan Interior Ministry, spokesman, Najib Danish told on Sunday morning that security forces rescued 126 hostages including 41 foreigners.

He added that all the three attackers were killed in the operation.

According the manager of the Hotel, Ahmad Haris Nayab that the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen and people tried to get out amid bursts of gunfire.

The attack came days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attacks.



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Bomb blast leaves 2 dead, hurt

Monitoring Desk

KHOST: A bomb blast left one person dead and another wounded in Gardez, capital of southeastern Paktiya province, police said Saturday.

The bomb attached to a private motorcar detonated in the limits of Gardez city just before noon Saturday, Sardar Wali Tabassum, spokesman of Paktiya police, told media person. He said driver of the car was killed and a passer-by wounded in the blast, adding the slain man did not occupy any government post. He said police started investigations into the incident.


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67 captive security men released

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As many as 67 security personnel were set free from two detention centers of Taliban during operation of the Afghan forces in Baghran, defense ministry announced on Saturday.

According to a defense ministry press release, Afghan National Army and NDS joint forces launched offensive against two Taliban prisons in Baghran district.

Resultantly, it said 67 captive security personnel were released from these detention centers. The released troops were taken to Uruzgan.

Twenty of them were shifted to Kandahar while the remaining troops would be sent to other provinces, the press release stated. The press release, however, did not disclose the accurate time of the offensive.

The Taliban have not said anything in this regard so far.

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Taliban kill ex-commander on charges of ISIS links

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Taliban insurgents have executed one of their former commanders on charges of having links with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) loyalists in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The police commandment of Nangarhar in a statement said Saturday that the former Taliban commander was killed in Dur Baba district.

The statement further added that the ex-Taliban commander identified as Rahmatullah was killed at around 2 pm local time in Aman Kot district. According to the provincial police commandment, Rahmatullah was accused of having links with the ISIS loyalists and was executed by his ex-comrades.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban and ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan where fewer incidents have been reported since the fall of the Taliban regime.

However, since the year 2014, reports continue to emerge regarding the growing insurgency activities of the ISIS terrorist groups in some remote parts of the province, including Achin.

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No female doctor in remote Ghazni areas

Monitoring Desk

GHAZNI CITY: Residents of far-flung areas in southern Ghazni province transfer their female family patients to kilometers away to district centers or the provincial capital against an artificially increased taxi fare.

The people in remote area say at times it takes a whole day to find a taxi for shifting a female patient to hospital to other areas because health facilities are not available in their own areas.

Gbazni public health officials acknowledge the lack of female doctors and nurses in remote parts of the province, but they say newly graduated midwives have been dispatched to clinics the districts.

Kamal Shah, a resident of Giro district, said there was no female doctor in their locality and he had to transfer his wife to the civil hospital in Ghazni City.

“Forget about female doctor, there is no clinic in our area. For a small health issue, we have to shift our females to Ghazni City or Andar district.”

Some years back health facilities were destroyed in Giro district due to incidents of violence and conflict. Kamal Shah said security situation on the Giro-Ghazni City road was not good, making it hard to convince drivers to travel on the road.

“You have to spend almost a day to find a car for transferring the patient. When someone agrees he demands high fare while people’s economic situation is also not good.”

Asadullah, a resident of Andar district, said the lone clinic in their district was without female doctors.

“The government should ensure security of doctors so they could travel to far-flung areas. Only midwives are not enough,” he said.

He said they could not shift female patients to the city or other areas during night due to security issues. “This is another huge problem, most of the patients lose lives as they don’t reach hospital.”

“Sometimes the Taliban don’t allow vehicles to proceed to the city and this is another big issue,” he said.

Fatima, a resident of Waghaz district, said she a few months back she suffered from a stomachache.

“It was midnight when suddenly I started feeling pain in the lowe-right abdomen and whatever we had in the house I ate but there was no relief and I screamed the entire night.”

“After the medical examination at the civil hospital it was found I had appendicitis and the appendix was removed”, she said.

According to Fatima, the doctor told her that she would have died had she reached a few hours late to the hospital.

Residents of Deh Yak, Ajiristan, Maqur, Qarabagh, Aab Band and Khogyani districts also complain they are facing many problems in access to health services.

The residents have asked officials concerned to resolve their healthcare problems.

On the other hand, Mursal, a midwife from Khoygani district of Ghazni, told Pajhwok that female doctors and midwives could not work in remote districts due to security problems.

“I have duty here in Khogyani, my own district, but if the security situation improves doctors from other areas will also come here,” she said.

She said even men specialists could not work in remote areas fearing for their lives. She urged militant groups to shun insurgency so specialist doctors were able to serve people all parts of the country.

Public health director Zahir Shah Nikmal told Pajhwok they were struggling with the shortage of female doctors while there was no shortage of midwives in Ghazni.

“Female doctors are serving only in four districts (Malistan, Jaghatu, Khwaja Omari and Jaghori) while midwives are working in all districts of Ghazni,” he said.

“Midwives cannot diagnose all health cases of women but they can help in dealing with patients,” Nikmal said.

He also said female doctors had no interest to serve in districts due to security problems.

“We are trying to find a solution to this problem” he said without going into details. He said they were trying to reopen the health center in Giro district.

Provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zaman said the security situation was not bad in districts and female doctors could work there.

“The government is responsible to ensure security for the public, we also assure doctors we can provide a safe environment for them and they can work in any district,” he said.

But the governor’s spokesman, Mohammad Arif Noori, said female doctors were not allowed by their families to work in remote areas and they used security problems as an excuse.

“District centers are in bazaars, so there are no security problems when the district administration is operational there,” he added.

“If female doctors face security problems in their movements, they can ask security forces for help.”

On the other hand, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the Taliban never created problems for female doctors.

“We have repeatedly asked healthcare officials to employ female specialists as well, therefore we do not pose any problems to them,” he said.

Ghazni is one of the most unstable provinces of the country, a reason people complain about lack of basic services.

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Taliban would soon be defeated in Farah: MoD

Monitoring Desk

KABUL:  After reports of growing Taliban activities in Farah District, capital of Farah province, the Afghan defense ministry has said missive operation has been launched in this western province to suppress Taliban.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman of Afghan defense ministry, told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) Saturday that the defense ministry was were aware of the Taliban operations and has launched special operation in the city and its outskirts. He said the operation would continue till the city and its surrounding areas are cleared of Taliban.

The defense ministry admitted the security forces suffered casualties in Farah district over the past one month but said they did not have the count of security forces casualties during the same period.

Deputy spokesman of Farah province Muhammad Younas Rasouli, meanwhile, told journalists that more than 500 Afghan security men were killed in Taliban attacks in Farah city over the past one week. He said the Taliban fighters were present in Farah city and its outskirts, posing serious threat to the people.

Exactly in the same season last year, the Taliban conducted attacks in Farah City and its surrounding areas, spreading fear of the fall of the city. However, they were soon repulsed by the security.

Local authorities allege that Iran was supporting Taliban that is why they could be easily defeated in this bordering province.


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2,000 families flee homes as Kunduz raids continue

Monitoring Desk

KUNDUZ: An ongoing clearing operation has displaced around 2,000 families in Chardara district to the provincial capital of northern Kunduz province, an official said Saturday.

Launched a week back, the operation codenamed “Pamir 17” has been focused on 10 villages in the district, said Salaam Hashimi, the provincial refugee and repatriation director. He told Pajhwok the displaced families were suffering from a lot of trouble and difficulties due to harsh winter. They have just started survey of the displaced families in the provincial city, Hashimi said, adding all donor agencies had shown interest to offer assistance to these families.

Sediqia, 60, who recently displaced along with her 12-member family, said they left their area due to the ongoing security forces operation. She said security situation in their district was bad and the government had so far extended them no aid since arriving Kunduz City.

Another displaces woman expressed her concern about the situation of the uprooted families who left behind everything to save their lives.

She said the families were in great trouble due to lack of shelter to protect themselves from harsh winter.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Sayed Qurban Musavi, chief of the ANA 20 division, said the Taliban used homes of local residents to attack security forces, a reason behind the displacement.

He said the ongoing clearing operation had resulted in purging ten villages out from the presence of rebels.


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Attack under way on Kabul luxury hotel: official

KABUL (AFP): Four gunmen attacked Kabul’s landmark Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday and started shooting at guests, officials said, in an assault that is still underway.

“Four attackers are inside the building,” an official at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency told AFP.

They are “shooting at guests”, he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack in the Afghan capital that followed a series of security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners.

Another official said the attackers were armed with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades when they entered the hotel, which often hosts weddings, conferences and political gatherings.

“They are now on the third and fourth floors fighting with our forces. We don’t know the details of casualties yet but they set the kitchen on fire,” interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.

The fourth floor of the hotel is also on fire, the NDS official said.

Ministry of interior spokesman Najib Danish confirmed that several attackers have entered the hotel.

“We don’t know the details yet but our forces are in the area to bring them down,” Danish said.

There was no immediate information on casualties in the latest attack on the state-owned 1960s hotel, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain.

Some of the occupants inside the hotel are hiding on the second floor, a security source said.

A guest hiding in his room in the hotel told AFP he could hear gunfire.

“I don’t know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor,” he said without giving his name.

“We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us.”

Electricity was cut after an initial explosion at the hilltop hotel, a counterterrorism source said.

The Intercontinental was last targeted in June 2011 when a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban killed 21 people, including 10 civilians.

Security in Kabul has been tightened since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the diplomatic quarter, killing some 150 people and wounding around 400 others – mostly civilians. No group has yet claimed that attack.

Daesh group has claimed most of the recent attacks in the Afghan capital.

The deadliest of the recent attacks happened at a cultural centre on December 29 when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing more than 40 people.

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Spain plans to send more troops to Afghanistan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Defense Minister of Spain, María Dolores de Cospedal, agreed on to send more Spanish troops to Afghanistan. This she said while talking to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at presidential palace on Friday.

 Both the leaders discussed the Afghanistan’s security situation and matter of mutual interest. Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami and the Army Chief of Staff Brigadier General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali also attended the meeting.

 Presidential Palace issued a statement in this regard and according to it, Spanish minister said her country will continue its cooperation and support to Afghan Special Force under the Resolute Support mission and adding that the number of Spanish troops will increase in Afghanistan with the aim to train and focusing on building the capacity of Afghan National Defense and Security Force members.

Spain has so far sent in 29,861 troops to Afghanistan since January 2002. It has been the longest military operation of Spain’s modern armed forces, with a tragic result of 102 dead (62 of them in an aircraft crash in Turkey while they were going back home in May 2003).

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Five Al-Qaeda militants killed in Nangarhar operation

Monitoring Desk

NANGARHAR: As many as five militants of Al-Qaeda group were killed in a military operation conducted in Shirzad district of Nangarhar province on late Thursday night.

The military officials issued a statement in this regard and it added that five foreign militants, a suicide bombing plotter and a key member of the group were among those killed in the operation.

Nangarhar has so far witnessed heavy military operations to target militant groups, including Daesh militants.