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A-10s planes arrive in Kandahar province

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The US Air Force has reportedly deployed the A-10 planes to provide close-air support to the Afghan and United States forces as the counter-terrorism operations gain momentum in the restive parts of the country.

The planes reportedly arrived in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan on Friday and shortly started operations by providing close-air support to the security forces on the ground.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, head of US Air Forces Central Command, in a statement to Fox News, has said “As we’ve applied increased pressure on the Taliban and their revenue sources with precision airpower, we’ve gained considerable momentum in our effort to force them to reconcile or face defeat.”

“As US advisors move closer to the front lines in support of our Afghan partners, this additional airpower will give them the decisive advantage necessary to advance with confidence,” he added.

This comes as the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and the United States forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said late in December last year that the attacks on Taliban financial engine will continue as heavy losses have been inflicted on the group and its associated in recent raids.

“In just over three days’ worth of operations, the Afghan 215th Corps, their special forces commandos, their air force, in close cooperation with United States forces, removed between $7 million and $10 million of revenue from the Taliban’s pocketbook,” Gen. Nicholson said.

He also added “And the overall cost to the drug trafficking organizations approached $48 million. So these strikes were just the first step in attacking the Taliban’s financial engine, and they will continue.”

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President, high-ranking officials discuss security situation of Farah

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A gathering was held at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday to evaluate the security situation of Farah province.

President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani was presiding over the meeting, a presidential office press release available with Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) stated.

The security and defence sector and Independent Directorate of Local Governance presented reports about the security situation of Farah to the president.

The participants discussed various ways to improve security situation, remove security threats and eliminate enemy activities in Farah province.

They said that the security of Farah would soon be improved with the implementation of the decisions and proposals adopted by the security and defence forces.

Defence Minister Lieutenant General Tariq Shah Behrami, Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) Muhammad Masoom Stanikzai, chairman of presidential office Abdul Salam Rahimi, head of Independent Directorate of Local Governance Abdul Matin Baig and deputy head of National Security Council Dr Yasin Zia attended the meeting.

The security situation of Farah is worsening with every passing day. The lawmakers and local people of Farah fear that the province could collapse into the hands of armed opponents. They have demanded of the central government to launch military operation to eliminate the enemy threats in the province.

According to defence ministry officials, offensive has been launched against the armed opponents in Farah. They are confident that the security situation of the province would improve soon.

Dozens of Afghan security personnel, including provincial security in-charge Gulbahar Mujahid were killed and multiple more injured in the incidents of insecurity in Farah province of Afghanistan.

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Hotel attack reveals security, intelligence failure

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The First Vice President of Afghanistan General Abdul Rashid Dostum says the attack on Intercontinental Hotel reveals security and intelligence failure.

In a statement released in the aftermath of the deadly attack, Gen. Dostum said he is deeply saddened with the loss of life and property losses inflicted to the ordinary and innocent civilians. Gen. Dostum further added that the attack once again unveils the weakness of the security and intelligence organs to discover and prevent the programs of the terror groups.

He said the main issue lies with the better management in the security sector, emphasizing that the government should evaluate the security institutions in a bid to resolve issue and prevent the occurrence of such attacks in the future. A group of heavily armed insurgents launched a coordinated attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul late on Saturday night, triggering a standoff that lasted for almost 15 hours.

According to the Ministry of Interior officials, the attack was launched by a group of at least five insurgents although reports indicate that six insurgents were involved in the attack. The ministry in a statement said Monday that eighteen people including fourteen foreigners were killed in the attack and nine others including security personnel were wounded.

 

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Three IS militants killed in Nangarhar airstrikes  

Monitoring Desk

NANGARHAR: As many as three militants affiliated with Islamic State (IS) terrorist group were killed in airstrikes conducted by Afghan air force in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Afghan military officials told local media on Tuesday that the airstrikes were carried out in the vicinity of Achin district. In which three IS militants were killed and one other was injured.

The official added that the local residents and security personnel engaged in the anti-IS operations did not suffer any casualties.

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

 

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At least 65 militants killed in foreign forces operations in Paktika

Monitoring Desk

PAKTIA: Police Chief Muhammad Azim Hashimi has said that at least 65 Taliban fighters were killed in an operation conducted by foreign forces in Paktika province.

 While talking to media persons on Tuesday, Hashimi said that the operation was conducted on Saturday night by foreign forces in Barmal and Nika districts and in airstrikes targeted Taliban hideouts and killed at least 65 Taliban fighters.

Hashimi added that militant’s vehicles, two bases and weapons caches were also destroyed during the air strike and adding that the current operation will leave positive effect on security of the district and province.

 

However, Taliban rejected the claims.

 

 

 

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50 Taliban perish in Chahardara operation

Monitoring Desk

KUNDUZ: Afghan National Army on Monday claimed up to 50 Taliban gunmen were killed and dozens more wounded during the week-long operation in the Chahardara district of northeastern Kunduz province.

The operation launched in the Chahardara district six days ago was concluded with heavy casualties to the Taliban, Abdul Khalil Khalili, press officer of ANA’s 20th Division in Kunduz province.

He told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that tens of Taliban hideout, weapons and other equipment seized by the Taliban after the fall of Kunduz city last year were destroyed, adding up to 50 Taliban were killed and tens more wounded during the operation wherein three security men also sustained injuries.

Local residents, meanwhile, said besides casualties to the Taliban gunmen, security forces also suffered loss of life.

The operation displaced more than 2000 families.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the security forces concluded the operation with any major achievement.

He said the Taliban repulsed the Afghan and foreign forces by inflicting heavy casualties on them.

“During the operation, five Americans and 21 government troops were killed and a large number more wounded,” he said. Mujahid conceded that eight Taliban were also killed and 11 wounded.

The troubled Chahardara district is located six kilometers to west of Kunduz city and the Taliban still control most of the areas of the district as the security forces failed to completely restore government writ to district despite repeated operations.

 

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Balkh governor barred from talking to media

Monitoring Desk

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: The newly-appointed governor for northern Balkh province, Eng. Daud, was not allowed on Sunday to speak to media at the airport in the provincial capital, Mazar-i-Sharif, before returning to Kabul.

Daud, who traveled to Mazar-i-Sharif five days ago to attend his father’s funeral ceremony, returned to Kabul on Sunday. He was expected to talk to journalists at the Balkh airport Monday, but sources close to the governor said he was not allowed despite reporters had been invited to the airport.

Zamir Qayumi, secretary of Daud, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the governor was expected to talk to media at the Jalaluddin Balkhi Airport.

Therefore all media outlets were invited to come to the airport, he said. But Balkh people’s representative in the Wolesi Jirga, Asadullah Sharifi, and the airport’s security chief, Mohammad Khan, did not allow the governor to talk to reporters.

Qayumi said the motive behind not allowing the governor to speak to the media was to weaken his morale in the public.

However, the airport security chief rejected the claim, saying the new governor’s plan of talking to media had not been coordinated with him. “It is a lie, we do not prevent anyone,” he said.

Journalists said they were invited to the airport at 1pm, but they were not allowed to enter until 2:30pm.

Javid Wak, a reporter with Shamshad TV channel, told Pajhwok that he was invited by the new governor’s secretary to the airport.

He said journalists from many media outlets had come to the airport but they were not allowed to enter there.

He said Eng. Daud entered the airport around 2pm and they were informed half an hour later that the governor was not allowed to speak to the media.

 

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Thousands of Dasht-i-Archi students out of school

Monitoring Desk

KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): A number of schools in the Dash-i-Archi district of northern Kunduz province have been closed due to recent spike in insecurity, affecting thousands of students.

The residents of the district demand the government reopen the closed schools promptly because it is the question of their children’s future. Tribal elder Haji Akhtar Mohammad told Pajhwok Afghan News several schools in Dasht-i-Archi district had been closed due to insecurity.

Without giving details, the elder said some other schools in the district operated without being monitored by the Education Department.

He feared if the situation remained the same thousands of students who were out of school due to insecurity would not be able to return to classes. “This is true that schools cannot be kept open during conflict, but it is unprofessional and wrong to mark absent students as present at schools as done by teachers.”

He said five schools — in Ghiljyan, Shinwaryan and Tahjer Khana areas the Girls Central High School and the Jamhoriat High School — had been closed due to insecurity in the district.

Sharifullah, who lives in the Dasht-i-Archi main bazaar, said no tangible step had been taken for development of education in Dasht-i-Archi. He added: “Some schools are closed during fighting; this problem has been here since long, depriving over 5,000 students of education.”

Mohammadullah, an 8th class student at the Jamhoriat High School, said their school was closed past few months and remained shut. “When the fighting erupted, our schools were closed.”

Nasrin, not real name, a student at the Central Girls High School, said she studied up to sixth class in the school without any redouble but recently her school remained shut most of the time due to violence. “All students are growing as illiterate, sometimes Taliban also say that girls should not study beyond sixth class.”

The residents of Dasht-i-Archi called on the Education Department to address issues facing the vital sector in the district. Islamuddin Taimouri, deputy head of the Education Department, said three schools in Dasht-i-Archi remained closed periodically.

He rejected the closure of five schools and added the Jamhoriat, Tahjir Khana and Central Girls High School were sometimes closed due to conflict and were reopened after a lull in fighting.

Answering a question, he said around 2,500 students studied in the three schools that got closed due to fighting. Taimouri said when a school was closed due to violence, its students could be shifted to another place for study in order to keep the education system going.

Naiamtullah Taimouri, the governor spokesman, said no school had been closed in Kunduz province.

He mentioned as the only problem girl students faced in the province was Taliban’s ban on their education after sixth class. He added efforts had been launched with the help of tribal elders to address problems in Taliban controlled areas.

The Taliban have not yet spoken about the closing of schools in Dasht-i-Archi, but the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban were not against education.

There are 57 schools in Dasht-i-Archi, imparting education to 27,550 students including 9,643 of them girls.

 

 

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Stanikzai commends ‘tremendous help’ from BCCI

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive officer (CEO) has commended India’s role in promoting the game in the war-devastated country.

“BCCI’s role has really been immense. Since we moved to India, the team has done well. The support we receive from BCCI has been instrumental,” Shafiq Stanikzai said.

In an interview with the Press Trust India (PTI), he acknowledged: “In Pakistan we trained a lot in initial stages. Their (PCB) support was also tremendous.” But after moving to India, the Afghans had been performing well and had reached a stage where they were playing with the best, the ACB CEO added.

“So, comparatively, it is bigger. Financially, it is helping us quite a lot. It is cost-effective in comparison to playing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he said.

Convincing other boards to come and play in India was easier, argued Stanikzai, who said BCCI had agreed to support Afghanistan’s U-17 squad. A year after becoming a full ICC member, Afghanistan are scheduled to play their maiden Test match against India in Bangalore in June.

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Massoud supports Noor, slams govt for failures

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The head of Ahmad Shah Massoud Foundation Ahmad Wali Massoud on Monday declared his support to Ata Mohammad Noor regarding the ongoing controversies surrounding the Balkh province political leadership.

Speaking during a press conference in Mazar-e-Sharif city, Massoud said the deadlock over the Balkh government leadership can only be resolved with the implementation of the political pact regarding the national unity government.

He also accused the government leaders for hatching conspiracies to eliminate their political rivals and said the government leaders have failed to implement the unity government political pact.

Massoud also added that the government has no intention to organize the upcoming elections on time and warned that the ongoing political deadlock will negatively impact the unity of the people. Tensions remain high between Jamiat-e-Islami and the government after President Ashraf Ghani approved the resignation of Ata Mohammad Noor as the Balkh governor almost a month ago.

Noor says he had submitted his resignation as a guarantee to the government that he will step down if the demands of Jamiat-e-Islami are met by the government.

However, he says the government has approved his resignation as negotiations were underway insisting that none of the conditions and demands of the party have been met.