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Taliban destroy IS-K’s command

Monitoring Desk

SHABARGHAN: Taliban destroyed Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) or Daesh command and control centre in the Darzab district of northern Jowzjan and captured more than 10 IS-K fighters, police confirmed Wednesday.

The Taliban launched massive offensives against IS-K bases in the Darzab and Qushtepa districts of Jowzjan province 25 days ago and were able to seized its command and control centre in Sradara area besides surrounding the Alqani and Mughal villages, said Maj. Muhammad Ismail, police chief of Darzab district.

The two villages fell to Taliban at approximately 4:00 a.m. (local time) Wednesday, he told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), adding numerous IS-K fighters were captured by Taliban while some others surrendered to government.

“With the fall of these areas, the Daesh gunmen started surrendering [to government]. Twenty-six gunmen surrendered two days ago while more than 100 laid down arms Wednesday morning. Till so far, 200 persons have surrendered. Daesh general commander [in north] Maulvi Habibur Rahman, his deputy Mufti Niamat and another strong commander Mullah Sohbatullah are among them,” the district police chief said.

Reports suggested Mullah Sohbatullah was financial official of Daesh. He said the surrendering of Daesh also continued in other areas and those who laid down arms would be shifted to provincial capital Shabarghan.

Muhammad Raza Ghafoori, spokesman of Jowzjan governor, confirmed that 150 gunmen including Daesh military commander Habibur Rahman and his deputy surrendered to Afghan forces.

He said the IS-K fighters surrounded by Taliban or those escaped were surrendering to Afghan forces.

Afghan National Army 209th Shaheen Corps said more than 300 Daesh and Taliban fighters were killed and wounded during clashes over the past several days.

Local Taliban told AIP that they had seized 62 Daesh fighters including 21 fighters.

They said house-to-house search was underway to clear the area of Daesh.

Information collected by AIP suggested that IS-K’s Afghan fighters surrendered to government while their foreign associates, most of them Uzbeks, surrendered to Taliban

Taliban sources said some European militants hailing from France and Germany were also among those surrendered to Taliban, adding further investigations were underway.

Taliban also formally announced the elimination of IS-K movement in Jowzjan as their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AIP that IS-K command and control centre in Sradara among all the areas of Darzab district were cleared of Daesh.

He said Taliban military units from Jowzjan, Sar-e-Pul and Faryab province took part in the offensive, adding 153 Daesh fighters were killed, more than 100 wounded and 134 others were seized by Taliban.

Mujahid conceded that 17 Taliban were also killed and 13 wounded during the clashes. He claimed that US aircrafts bombarded Taliban positions during the clashes to provide protection to Daesh but could not succeed.

The Taliban spokesman also warned other groups to stop fighting against Taliban otherwise they would meet the Daesh fate.

He said neither confirmed nor denied the presence of foreign fighters among those seized by Taliban, saying further details would be released later. Taliban sources in Jowzjan, meanwhile, said round 40 Taliban were killed and a large number more wounded in these clashes.

On July 17, Daesh conducted a suicide attack on the condolence ceremony of a Taliban fighter in Sayad district of Sara-e-Pul province, killing 15 Taliban.

The Daesh commander in northern Afghanistan, Maulvi Habibur Rahman, and his deputy Mufti Niamatulalh, are former Taliban but had links with Afghan government, especially General Abdul Rashid Dostam, 1st deputy Afghan president.

Maulvi Habibur Rahman succeeded Qari Hekmat, Daesh commander in northern Afghanistan after his death. Qari Hekmat was also former Taliban commander but later switched loyalties to Daesh.

The Taliban also eliminated Daesh centres from Alingar district of Laghman province in June and made the same attempt in Kunar but could not succeed there.

Similarly, the Taliban conducted operations against Daesh in Nangarhar time by time but failed to destabilize it there.

 

 

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Sikhs suffered unprecedented casualties

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Sikh minority suffered unprecedented casualties in July for the first time in several years, an advocacy said Wednesday.

The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said in a statement that most of casualties in 22 provinces of the country in July were caused by suicide attacks and airstrikes.

The CPAG said most of the casualties in July occurred in eastern Nangarhar province as a result of suicide attacks, adding a part of the victims members of Sikh community. The statement airstrikes also targeted civilians in Paktia, Nangarhar and Kunduz provinces the same month.

Civilian fatalities recorded a significant increase in July while number of injured decrease compared to June, CPAG

According to the statement, 542 people suffered casualties (232 killed and 313 wounded) last month.

The group said July first, 10th, 11th, 29th, 30th and 31st were deadliest days in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, where over 70 people were killed and 50 others wounded.

People in Kabul also suffered high casualties as 21 people were killed and 80 others wounded in suicide attacks, CPAG added.

Airstrikes in Paktia, Kunduz and Nangarhar left more than 40 people dead, the source said.

 

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UNAMA hails announcement of elections date

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Wednesday welcomed the Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) announcement to hold the presidential election on April 20, 2019.

UN Secretary General Special Representatives for Afghanistan Tadamachi Yamamoto, called the presidential election announcement an importance step for democracy in the war-torn country.

A statement from UNAMA quoted Yamamoto as saying: “We urge all parties to perform their respective roles in order to ensure necessary timelines and conditions are met for credible presidential polls.”

More than 8.9 million Afghans, including over three million women, have registered to vote in this year’s parliamentary and district council elections, and for the 2019 presidential ballot.

UNAMA said it expected a multi-layered and thorough verification process of registered voters in order for any irregularities to be addressed.

The mission said it was playing a strictly impartial role in supporting the electoral management bodies in the organisation of elections, as well as in strengthening the integrity, sustainability and inclusiveness of the process.

“UNAMA remains committed to working with Afghan institutions as they implement reforms to enhance transparency and build trust in Afghanistan’s democratic processes, including by promoting the participation of women as voters and as candidates.”

 

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Two IRC workers killed in Jalalabad terror attack

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Two Afghan employees of International Rescue Committee (IRC) and International Organization for Migration were among the 15 people killed in attack on refugee and repatriation department in Jalalabad city, the humanitarian organizations announced Wednesday.

“The United Nations family in Afghanistan confirms that an employee of the IOM was killed in attack on the Department of Refugees and Returnees in Jalalabad,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

It said an IOM employee was also among the injured.

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing condemned the attack as a heinous crime, saying “My heart goes out to the families of the victims, and all of us in IOM are thinking of our staff working in difficult conditions across the country on behalf of the Afghan people.”

The statement said the deceased IOM worker was a young woman of 22 years of age and had lost her husband in a bombing in Kabul three years ago. She left behind a six-year old daughter.

Sources, meanwhile, identified the IOM slain worker as Miss Fareeha Sundas who was working in children nutrition section of IOM.

Meanwhile, IRC announced in a statement that they lost an Afghan employee, Fareedullah Noori, in the terror attack on refugees and repatriation department.

It said Fareed had worked for the IRC in Afghanistan since 2010 as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene engineer.

Sanna Johnson, IRC Regional Vice President for Asia, condemned the attack and expressed grief and shock over the death of IRC employee. “We condemn this sickening attack on a humanitarian coordination meeting, where aid workers and government officials were discussing how best to help vulnerable Afghans,” she said.

Madera Afghanistan’s officials in eastern zone, Engineer Khoshiwal Kazmi and Jalalabad Wolesi Taroon director Faqir Faizi were also among the dead. Afghan refugees and repatriation ministry also condemned the attack.

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Omar to discuss Nangarhar situation with Ghani

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Omar Zakhilwal has expressed concern over insecurity in eastern Nangarhar province, saying he will discuss the issue with President Ashraf Ghani.

After the killing of a tribal elder and Wolesi Jirga candidate and four other people in a suicide car bombing in Nangarhar on Monday, Zakhilwal voiced his concern at the situation there.

The ambassador wrote on his Facebook account the security situation was deteriorating in the province, with each passing day.

Around 32 suicide attacks and explosions had happened in Nangarhar over the past three months, killing and wounding more than 600 people, he added. The current situation in the war-hit province negatively impacted minds of people, he noted.

“I urge provincial authorities to stop giving baseless reports about progress and improvement and give a realistic picture of the situation in the important province,” the ambassador said.

He would share the issue with President Ghani after thoroughly assessing the situation in the province. He would underline the need for serious steps to ensure the stability of Nangarhar.

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Ghani praises Afghan robotics team’s gains

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani has directed the construction of a school with focus on science and robot-making, a statement from the Presidential Palace said on Tuesday.

The president issued the directives during a meeting with two members of the Afghanistan robotics team at his office.

Roya Mahboob and Fatema Qadera — members of the Afghanistan robotics team, during their meeting with the president explained their strategy for construction of a separate science school to the president.

They urged the president to provide support in construction of the special science school.

They also shared information with the president regarding their recent international competitions held in the US, Mexico and other countries and said that the team of Afghanistan earned fair positions in these competitions.

The president welcomed their plan for creation of a separate school and tasked Abdul Wahid Qatali, head of the Presidential Administrative Affairs, Nadema Sahar, head of the technical and professional studies and Javed Rasouli, head of the Central Statistic Organization, to cooperate in provision of required technology for the school.

The president hailed the robotics team’s performance and added more science schools needed would be built in provinces.

The Afghan girls robotics team took home a top prize at Robotex, Europe’s largest robotics festival and placed 114th overall (higher than the teams from the US and UK) in competitions in the US and received a medal for “courageous achievement.”

 

 

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IECC refuses to register complaint against candidate

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) has been refusing to register complaint against a Wolesi Jirga candidate accused of killing 10 people and spearheading an illegal militia in northern Baghlan province.

However, the IECC argued it could not register complaints now because the time to register complaints registration expired on June 30. Two men and a woman, residents of Jalga district of Baghlan province traveled to Kabul to register a complaint against Delawar Imaq, a Wolesi Jirga candidate in the upcoming elections.

They asked the IECC to remove Imaq from the list of Wolesi Jirga candidates. Carrying photographs of their relatives allegedly killed by Jabbar, an illegal commander linked to Imaq, the three persons said their 10 relatives had been killed by Jabbar who had the backing of Imaq.

Haji Habib, one of the protestors, said his seven other relatives had also been killed by Imaq but they could not come to Kabul and register a complaint because they could not afford their travel costs.

He said they wanted to register a complaint on behalf of their other relatives in the IECC.

“We came to Kabul because no government offices in Baghlan take our complaints,” Habib said. He claimed two of his sons, with one of them named Ibrahim who worked in police in Jalga district, were killed by Jabbar, a bodyguard and supporter of Imaq.

The female protestor, who carried her son’s (Islamuddin) photograph, said, “We came here from a very remote area in order our voice is heard, no one in Baghlan hears our voice, I raised Islamuddin in backbreaking poverty but he was killed by Jabbar.”

The three people asked officials concerned to hear their complaints regarding those killed by Jabbar.

They tried to register their complaint with the IECC, but the commission refused to do so and said the time for complaints registration had expired. Pajhwok tried to seek comment from Imaq and Jabbar about the complaints, but a contact could not be established with them.

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Atmar shocked at tribal elder Hayat’s killing

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: National Security Advisor (NSA) Hanif Atmar has expressed shock over the killing of prominent elder and Wolesi Jirga candidate Hayatullah Khan and ordered security forces to avenge his death.

Haji Hayatullah Khan was among four people killed in a car suicide bomb attack on the Jalalabad-Torkham highway on Monday when his vehicle came under attack in Kabul camp area. A statement from his office received said Atmar strongly condemned Khan’s death and shared the grief of his family and friends.

Hayat was a patriot who led an uprising group against militants, the statement said. The enemies of Afghanistan were killing such prominent elders to mute their voices, it added.

Atmar said: “People are supportive of national security and defence forces that defend their motherland.” He promised the security forces would avenge Hayatullah’s killing.

 

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‘Removing troops from unnecessary areas a part of national defence strategy’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Withdrawing troops from the remote areas of the country was a strategy of the Afghan government, the defence ministry announced on Tuesday.

Following reports about the meeting of a US deputy secretary of state with Taliban representatives in Qatar, it is believed that both the sides have agreed to hand over some areas to Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to some media reports released by foreign media, US President Donuld Trump has directed the Afghan government to remove troops from the remote areas in Afghanistan and concentrate attention on the security of major cities.

The Afghan defence ministry has not said anything clearly about these reports so far. However, in a press release the ministry said that the withdrawal of troops from the remote areas of the country was a strategy of the Afghan government. The US had also supported the step, the press release stated.

According to a press release issued by the defence ministry, the deployment of troops in the Afghan National Army (ANA) structure was based on the national military strategy of the ministry.

Unnecessary checkpoints in the unimportant areas with low population of people would be merged into garrisons and military bases in the nearby areas, the press release said. The US has supported the strategy of the defence ministry of Afghanistan, the press release added.

The ANA was responsible to maintain security in all parts of the country, the press release said.

The press release said that retired troops would be recruited in the local force of Afghan National Army. They would be deployed in those areas from where they are recruited in the ANA local force. The Taliban have not said anything about these reports so far. However, they have always opposed the idea of handing over some areas to them or naming an area after name. They termed such ideas as a plan to disintegrate the country.

The plan to form local force in ANA was started implementing in the country some time ago. It would be formed under the umbrella of defence ministry.

The new force would be similar to the local police, which is currently active under the framework of interior ministry in the country. However, it is believed that retired army personnel would be recruited in the ANA local force. The force has already been deployed in some parts of the country.

 

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Kabul yet to prosecute high-profile graft cases: SIGAR

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The situation in Afghanistan is consistent with a largely lawless, weak and dysfunctional government, America’s federal watchdog says.

Many corruption cases are yet to be prosecuted due to the lack of political will, said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.

A citing a Department of Justice report, the watchdog referred to problems within the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC), set up in 2016 by President Ashraf Ghani.

In its latest report, SIGAR blamed the ACJC for going after low-level offenders instead of pursuing big graft cases, such as a case at the Herat passport office.

Calling the fight against the Taliban insurgents a stalemate, the watchdog said the Afghan government controlled or influenced about 56 percent of the country’s 407 districts as of May 15.

The government’s control remains unchanged from last quarter. On the other hand, the militants lost control or influence in three districts.

Afghan forces may have grown in size since last quarter to 314,242 personnel, but they have lost 8,500 personnel since April 2017 and 5,353 since April 2016, SIGAR said.