Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Jalalabad: IS prisoners at large

A gunbattle between militants and Afghan security forces raged at a prison in the eastern city of Jalalabad on August 3, Monday, with at least 24 people killed after the overnight assault led to a mass jailbreak.

The attack began on August 2, Sunday evening with car bomb detonated at the prison gate, and there were numerous other blasts heard as the attackers gunmen opened fire on security guards.

Some 30 militants involved in the attack on the prison, where some 2,000 prisoners were held, according to Sohrab Qaderi, a lawmaker in the capital of Nangarhar province.

Three militants were killed during the initial attack and gunbattle overnight, while at least 21 civilians and members of security forces died in the fighting, and 43 were wounded, Attaullah Khugyani, a spokesman for the governor said.

Police were forced to divert manpower to recapture escaped prisoners amid the chaos, and by noon on Monday, August 3, around 1,000 had been caught, Qaderi said, without elaborating on how many were still at large.

Afghan special forces arrived to support police, according to officials, and civilians were being evacuated from areas surrounding the prison, where Taliban and IS prisoners were being held along with ordinary criminals.

Meanwhile the city was in lockdown.

“The whole city of Jalalabad is under curfew, shops are closed,” Qaderi said. “Jalalabad is completely empty.”

Some news agencies refer to IS claim of responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the Afghan intelligence agency said special forces had killed a senior commander of the group near Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

Local officials in Nangarhar province said Monday that 21 have died and 43 have been wounded in the attack on a prison in PD4 of Jalalabad city that began on Sunday evening and is still ongoing.

The governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told TOLOnews that the clash is still ongoing close to the prison in PD4 in Jalalabad city and has continued for so long because attackers “use shopping malls as cover.”

The attack has continued for 13 hours, at the time of this report.
According to Khogyani, so far 21 civilian’s dead bodies and 43 wounded people have been transferred to the provincial hospital, and the wounded people are in stable condition.
So far three attackers were killed in the clash, and the total number of attackers is unknown, Khogyani said. But the remaining attackers will also be taken out “soon,” he said.

An Afghan commando in Jalalabad said the number of attackers may be “over twenty.”
Another credible source confirmed that the clash inside the prison is still ongoing and said that 700 inmates who fled the prison have been re-captured. A total of 1,500 inmates were in the prison originally, the source said.

A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives at the entrance gate of the prison in PD4 of Jalalabad city at 6:44 pm on Sunday.

Emal Neyazi, Nangarhar’s police chief, confirmed on August 2, Sunday, to a TOLOnews reporter in the area that 2 blasts occurred inside the prison.

Eyewitnesses say that the attack began with a car bomb exploding at the prison entrance gate, and the way was opened for the attackers and they clashed with the security forces.

Local media reports say Daesh has claimed responsibility, but this is unconfirmed.
The Taliban denies involvement in the attack.

The attack began on the last day of the Eid ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Afghanistan: explosion at Helmand market

A car bombing and mortar shells fired at a crowded market in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Monday, Juin 29, killed 23 people, including children, a statement from a provincial governor’s office said.

The attack could not be independently confirmed as the Taliban controlled area, is remote and inaccessible to reporters. At present both the Taliban and the Afghan military blamed each other for the killings of the civilians.

The statement from the office of the Helmand province governor, General Mohammad Yasin, did not provide further details and there was no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, denied the insurgents were involved in the attack. The Taliban claimed the military fired mortars into the market while the military said that on contrary it was a car bomb and mortar shells fired by the insurgents targeted the civilians.

The army said there was no military activity in the area on Juin 29 and that two Taliban fighters were also killed when the car bomb detonated at the marketplace. Animals brought for sale – sheep and goats – were also killed.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the “brutal and inhumane act.”

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again calls on the Taliban to refrain from war and violence and to accept the will of the Afghan people, which is the end of the war and the start of negotiations,” Ghani’s statement said.

Kabul explosion killed imam

Kabul bomb explosion inside a mosque killed two people, including the imam, and wounding two others an official of Afghanistan government said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State (Daesh) has been active in Kabul in recent weeks and has in the past carried out attacks inside mosques in Afghanistan.

Taliban insurgents insist they have never carried out an attack inside of a mosque.

Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was one of the two people killed in June 2 attack, Arian said. He was seriously wounded in the explosion and died later at a hospital.

Niazi was a well known cleric who was active as Friday prayer leader at the mosque. Next to his religious convictions he carried out duties as Kabul University professor in the Islamic Law department.

Tariq Arian, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, said the bomb targeted the Wazir Akber Khan Mosque at around 7:25 p.m., when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers. The mosque is located in a high-security diplomatic area near the offices of several international organizations and embassies.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, tweeted that the government strongly condemned the attack, saying it “reveals the brutality and inhumanity of those who purposefully perpetrate violence against our Ulema and innocent people.”

Attacks against worshippers have increased in Afghanistan: Last month, an unknown number of attackers stormed a mosque in northern Parwan province, killing 11 and wounding several others.

NATO welcomes Afghan Eid al-Fitr ceasefire

NATO has welcomed the announcement of a three-day cease-fire in Afghanistan during the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan – Eid al-Fitr.

“I welcome the statements by the government of Afghanistan & the Taliban on a 3-day ceasefire over Eid. All parties should seize this opportunity for peace, for the benefit of all Afghans,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter micro blog on May 23.

NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security,” he underlined.

In a message preceeding the celebrations, the insurgents made the surprise announcement amid escalating conflict and a fragile peace process, directing militants to stay out of areas under the government control, but adding government forces could visit Taliban-controlled areas.

In a similar holiday truce two years ago, there were unprecedented scenes of foes embracing each other and taking selfies.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the announcement, explaining that he instructed the military to comply.

“President Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi announced on Twitter.

Borrell: Afghan people deserve peace

“There are few words that can do justice to the horrors we have witnessed today in Afghanistan. At the same moment an attack was targeting a maternity ward in Kabul, a terrorist detonated his bomb in the middle of a funeral in Nangarhar. Dozens of innocent civilians were killed or injured in these most reprehensible acts of terror” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on two attacks targeting civilians in Kabul and Nangarhar.

“To target and kill mothers, newly born babies and nurses, as well as bereaved and mourning families, are acts of evil and show an appalling degree of inhumanity. The attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, also seems to have targeted international aid workers. The European Union stands in solidarity with them. These acts constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, for which the perpetrators will have to bear the consequences. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and we wish those who were injured a quick recovery.

“The Afghan people deserve peace. For too long has their country been ripped apart by terrorism and violence that no political objective can ever justify. A permanent ceasefire is absolutely vital, and the European Union calls on all stakeholders in Afghanistan and the region to make it a reality.”

Afghanistan peace process in stalemate

“On Afghanistan, we have discussing the situation where the country is in a political and military stalemate. The peace process is not advancing fast enough, although there have been some positive signs such as the first exchange of prisoners between the Taliban and the Afghan Government” said in his opening remarks the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the pressconference in Brussels.

“For our part, together with international and local partners, including Afghan civil society, the EU is calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, so that the country can face the current crisis”.

Release of 5K Taliban prisoners

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree promising to release 1,500 prisoners belonging to Taliban as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started. (Image: social media)

A recent peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners as precondition of the negotiations.

There was no official response from the Taliban, but the Associated Press news agency claims they saw a letter that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the head of the Taliban’s Prisoners Commission, sent to the prisoners, their families and Taliban leaders promising there would be no intra-Afghan talks until all the prisoners are released.

In a letter, sent around last weekend, President Ghani wrote that Taliban would verify that each prisoner released is among those on the list given to an American delegation.

The first round of 1,500 prisoners will be selected based on age, health and the length of their sentences already served. Each released Talib will be biometrically identified, and obliged to sign a written guarantee that they will not return to the battlefield. Taken in condiseration that the majority of them are illiterate, highly likelty that they will use ink to make an fingerpirnt on the document.

The remaining 3,500 prisoners will be released after intra-Afghan negotiations start and 500 will be released every two weeks providing the Taliban reduce violence on the battlefield, Ghani’s decree said.

MEPs condemn Erdogan “blackmail”

Greek officials said that in 24 hours between March 2 and March 3 morning hours, 5,183 people were prevented from entering the country,  45 people were detained they added. (Image: social media).

On March 3 morning, two men — one from Mali and one from Afghanistan — were arrested by Greek agents shortly after crossing the border, and loaded into a van with about 20 more people, from Somalia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

The new flow of migrants attempting to illegally enter Europe comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country was easing restrictions on those wishing to cross the border to leave Turkey.

Erdogan said his country, which has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, is unable to cope with a new wave and demands Europe’s “support”.

“It’s done, the gates are open,” Erdogan said March 2 in a TV announcement. “You will have your share of this burden now, ” adding that Europe could expect “millions” of migrants and refugees from now onward.

We strongly condemn the cynical blackmail by Turkish President Erdogan with the lives of people. The European border to Greece is not open and sending people there is dangerous and irresponsible. What happens at the border is fully Turkey‘s responsibility”  wrote in his Twitter micro blog Manfred Weber, the leader of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament.

Stoltenberg welcomes Afghanistan violence reduction

“I welcome today’s announcement that an understanding has been reached on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan.”
“This is a critical test of the Taliban’s willingness and ability to reduce violence, and contribute to peace in good faith.”

“This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists.
NATO Allies have been in Afghanistan since 2001. NATO currently has 16,000 troops in the country to support the Afghan security forces with training and funding, so that they can create the conditions for peace. NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability”

Space as NATO “operational domain”

‘Two weeks from now, NATO leaders will meet in London. Together, we will mark our Alliance’s seventieth anniversary. And look to the future” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

‘Tomorrow, Foreign Ministers will finalize our preparations for the London meeting. This leaders’ meeting is timely. Not least because questions are being asked about the strength of the transatlantic relationship. There are indeed differences among Allies on a range of different issues. Such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal. And more recently, the situation in North East Syria. But differences and doubts among Allies are not new. Despite them, NATO has only grown stronger over the last seventy years. And we continue to provide security for almost 1 billion people.     

“In fact, Europe and North America are doing more together in NATO today than we have for decades. We are strengthening our deterrence and defence, with more forces at higher readiness. Stepping up our response against cyber attacks and hybrid threats. And playing a key role in the fight against international terrorism, including with training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Because ultimately, being part of a strong transatlantic Alliance is in the national interest of each and every one of our countries.  Everything we do must be underpinned by fair burden sharing. We are now in the fifth consecutive year of rising defence spending across European Allies and Canada. With more than $100 billion extra invested in defence. This is unprecedented progress. And we are determined to keep up the momentum.

“In a fast-changing world, NATO continues to adapt to face strategic challenges. And tomorrow, we will take another important step. I expect ministers will agree to recognize space as an operational domain, alongside air, land, sea, and cyber. Space is essential to the Alliance’s defence and deterrence. For early warning, communication and navigation.

“Around 2,000 satellites currently orbit the Earth. Around half are owned by NATO countries. So recognising space as an operational domain will be a clear sign that we continue to strengthen our deterrence and defence in all areas. Our approach will remain defensive and fully in line with international law. NATO has no intention to put weapons in space. But we need to ensure our missions and operations have the right support.

We will also address a range of other issues. Including NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism. Our training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to play an important role in preventing the resurgence of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“Our work to counter hybrid threats will also be on the agenda. Allies are stepping up, including with new baseline requirements for resilient telecommunications, including 5G. And our first counter-hybrid support team is in Montenegro this week.  We will also discuss other strategic issues, including Russia the implications of the rise of China, the future of arms control, and energy security.”

“NATO is the only forum that brings nations from Europe and North America together, to address strategic security challenges NATO remains the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security. And it is the responsibility of each of us to maintain and strengthen our unity. In order to ensure credible deterrence and defence for all of us.” 

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