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Female Afghan mayor barred from taking office

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The newly-appointed mayor of Maidan Shahr city, the provincial capital of Maidan Wardak province, has been barred from assuming office.

Zarifa Ghafari was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr city nearly five months ago and was due to assume office during a ceremony on Saturday.

However, Ghafari has reportedly been barred from assuming office as the newly-appointed mayor due to the intervention of influential figures.

Ghafari has said she has been residing in Kabul for the past five months and has not been able to assume charge of Maidan Shahr municipality so far.

She was appointed as the mayor of Maidan Shahr based on a presidential decree and her appointment was confirmed by the provincial government as per decree.

According to Ghafari, she has been barred from assuming the office due to the interventions of haji Ghulam Mohammad who is the brother of Haji Mohammad Musa, president Ghani’s aide.

Haji Ghulam has confirmed his intervention and claims that Ghafari has been elected as the mayor by committing forgery.

This comes as efforts are underway to increase the role of women in the government leadership and the country’s first female mayor was appointed for Neli city of Daikundi province few months back. (Khaama Press)

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Abdullah stresses for efforts to stop civilian casualties

Monitoring Desk

HERAT: Terming civilian casualties as intolerable, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday (December 16) stressed for more efforts to address the issue.

Addressing the meeting of the working group to protect civilians, Dr. Abdullah said the rising civilian casualties were intolerable. He directed the security forces to take more steps to protect the lives of civilians.

Asking the security agencies to pay top priority to protection of civilians, he said any inefficiency was unjustified in this regard.

Officials of defence and interior ministries, special U.N envoy for Afghanistan, NATO representative, chairman of UNAMA’s human rights section and other concerned authorities attended the meeting. It was the responsibility of every person to protect the lives of civilians, Dr. Abdullah said. If anyone was found negligent of duty in this regard, they would be dealt with as per the law. Addressing the gathering, deputy interior minister for security said the existing policies to stop civilian casualties had been implemented in all sectors.

As per the policy, he said every official found negligent of duty or misusing authority would be considered responsible for civilian casualties. They would be presented before the judicial and justice entities, he said.

Defence ministry officials said the policy formed to cope with civilian casualties would be implemented during operations.

UN special envoy Toby Lanzer said civilians had suffered casualties as a result of ground and aerial operations in the past. The security forces should take prompt steps to address the issue, he added. (AIP)

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Use of Pakistani currency banned in Khost markets

Monitoring Desk

KHOST CITY: The circulation of the local currency has been jacked up to counter the use of the Pakistani rupee in southeastern Khost province.

On Saturday, dozens of youth staged a peaceful rally, urging the people to do transaction in the Afghan currency instead of Pakistani rupee.

Talib Mangal, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News representatives of government departments met on Saturday and decided to buy and sell goods using the afghanis.

Anyone violating the decision would be referred to judicial organs, he warned. “A plan is being devised to increase the circulation of the Afghan currency.” The move would help counter the use of the Pakistani rupees in the local market, he hoped, saying a commission had been created to implement the plan, the spokesman added.

Ayub, a protestor, told Pajhwok the rally was aimed at boosting public awareness and encouraging the people to transact in the afghani instead of foreign currencies.

Hamidullah Rokhan, another protester, promised they would no longer allow trade in the Pakistani rupees. He urged government officials to initiate concrete steps in this regard. Civil society activist Mohammad Jalal Haqiqat Zadran noted the provincial administration had created a commission to promote the circulation of the afghani.

However, he claimed, the plan had failed so far to achieve the objective. He hoped the move would yield a positive result in near future. (Pajhwok)

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Afghan President met with Italy’s Defense Minister

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with the defense minister of Italy Elisabetta Trenta in ARG Presidential Palace to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries and other issues including the equipping of the Afghan armed forces.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the meeting took place on Saturday evening in Gul Khana Palace of ARG Presidential Palace.

The statement further added that the two sides discussed expansion of bilateral ties between Afghanistan and Italy and equipping the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

President Ghani thanked Italy for its cooperation in the framework of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, particularly hailing Italy’s contribution in Herat province.

Calling the relations between the two nations as ‘historic’one, President Ghani said the bilateral relations of Afghanistan and Italy will become 100-year-old next year.

In her turn, Minister Trenta hailed President Ghani for his efforts in implementing reforms, fight against corruption, strengthening the role of women, and peace process and reaffirmed Italy’s support to Afghanistan, according to ARG Palace. (Khaama Press)

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‘HIA not to have an independent candidate’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has said the party will not have an independent candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.

Speaking during a press conference in Kabul, Hekmatyar said Hezb-e-Islami will nominate a candidate in close coordination with the other political parties.

Hekmatyar further added that Hezb-e-Islami and some other political parties would establish a joint council to decide regarding the nomination of a single candidate for the elections.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials announced last month that the presidential elections are scheduled for 20th of April next year.

In other parts of his speech, Hekmatyar alleged that massive that the October 20 parliamentary elections have been marred by fraud and called for the separation of fraudulent votes from the clean votes cast during the elections, specifically demanding the separation of votes which have been cast without biometric verification.

He went on to claim that Hezb-e-Islami has won one third of all the votes cast during the October 20 parliamentary elections. (Khaama Press)

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Korea donates $2.2m to help Afghan families

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: South Korea has donated around $2.2 million to help protect thousands of displaced families from harsh winter season in Afghanistan.

“Years of conflict, displacement and growing poverty, compounded by the unprecedented drought this year, have made the situation quite critical, especially for vulnerable families,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative in a statement issued on Sunday.

“Thanks to the generous financial contribution from the People and Government of Republic of Korea, children and their families can be protected from the winter cold.” The contribution will protect 21,000 families, more than half are children. “This contribution could not have been more timely. With the onset of the winter the situation is quite dire,” Adele Khodr said.

Amidst harshest winter conditions, UNICEF with donors support has delivered to an estimated 21,000 conflict and natural disaster affected families (58 percent being children) in the worst affected provinces of Herat, Badghis and Ghor, a package of essential non-food items including blankets, family kits including kitchen sets, tarpaulins and children winter clothing kits, the statement said.

Korean Ambassador Rhee Zha-hyoung said, “I am saddened by the fact that around 83,000 families across the country are in need of assistance to fight back cold and hunger during the harsh winter season.”

“Children who are already suffering from malnutrition and weak immune systems are more vulnerable to cold winter weather, and I thank UNICEF for taking the lead in helping those children in a prompt and timely manner.”

The internally displaced children are in desperate need of assistance, with many still living in makeshift structures, tents and inadequate shelters that will expose them to sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow and strong winds.

Malnutrition rates remain high amongst displaced children. Of the over 19,000 children screened in the provincial Herat and Badghis IDP settlements, more than 1,300 were found to be severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases and were referred for treatment at facilities in both provinces.

Over three million people including an estimated 1.6 million children are affected by the impact of drought across the country. The number of food insecure population is likely to increase to over 6 million people during the winter season.

With the significant drop in temperatures, there are reports of an increasing number of patients with acute respiratory tract infections, many of whom are children, and winter related deaths. (Pajhwok)

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Taliban IED maker injured in a premature blast

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A Taliban member and expert of IED making lost his both legs in a premature improvised explosive device explosion in Sarobi district of Kabul.

According to Afghan Military, the incident took place in Sarobi district of Kabul province on Friday and adding that a Taliban group member, Abdul Haq, who was assembling an improvised explosive device, lost his both legs when the bomb went off prematurely.

The Taliban militants and other militants including ISIS often use improvised explosive device as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.

However, in majority of such attacks the ordinary civilians are killed while in some cases the Taliban militants are themselves blown up in premature explosions.

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Afghan police arrests four alleged kidnappers in Kabul

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghan police arrested four kidnappers along with weapons during an armed clash with the police forces in Kabul city on Saturday.

According to Kabul Police Commandment, the suspects were arrested during separate operations conducted by the forces.

He further added that the police forces also confiscated two SW pistols from the detained individuals.

According to Kabul Police Commandment, the suspects had last week clashed with the police forces in the vicinity of Sang Kasha area located in the first police district of the city.

One of the suspects was arrested on the spot while three others had managed to escape the clash site, Kabul Police Commandment said, adding that the remaining suspects were rounded during the special operations of the police forces. Kabul Police Commandment also added in its statement that one of the residents of the city had earlier filed a complaint against one of the suspects regarding the kidnapping of his daughter

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US Green Beret charged with murder of man in Afghanistan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A US military spokesman said that a US Army Green Beret has been charged with the murder of an Afghan man during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.

According to NBC News, Major Matthew Golsteyn has admitted to shooting and killing a man in Afghanistan because he suspected he was a bomb maker for the Taliban.

The NBC News report said that Golsteyn admitted twice to the killing, once in an interview for a job at a spy agency and again during an interview with Fox News Channel.

“Major Matthew Golsteyn’s immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant the preferral of charges against him,” Lieutenant Colonel Loren Bymer, a spokesman for the US Army Special Operations Command, said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters. Golsteyn said in a statement he believed the allegations against him had been resolved years ago.

His attorney, Phil Stackhouse, said he would be “relentless” in defending Golsteyn against the charges.

“Major Golsteyn is a humble servant-leader who saved countless lives, both American and Afghan, and has been recognized repeatedly for his valorous actions,” Stackhouse said. (TOLOnews)

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Rebels, security personnel killed

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Forty-four Taliban fighters have been killed during operations in different parts of the country on Friday. The insurgents claimed killing and wounding 50 security personnel in a string of clashes over the past 24 hours.

The operations were conducted in Kunar, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Khost, Paktia, Logar, Paktika, Kandahar, Zabul, Ghor, Balkh, Badghis, Samangan, Faryab and Helmand provinces. In a brief statement, the ministry said that at least 10 fighters were wounded in the offensives conducted over the past 24 hours. (Pajhwok)