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Afghan forces’ casualties high in 2016: US general

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2016)

generalAfghan security forces are suffering rising levels of battlefield casualties this year and some of the Taliban’s finances have been disrupted after a U.S. airstrike killed their leader, top US commander in Afghanistan has said.

Reuters has quoted U.S. Army General and the commander of NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, John Nicholson telling a small group of reporters that the rising casualties were largely the result of Taliban attacks on fixed Afghan positions.

“This year, we’re seeing more tactical success (by the Afghans) on the battlefield but more casualties as well,” Nicholson quoted by Reuters saying this late on Saturday.

“It’s when they’re in a defensive posture, such as in checkpoints being overrun, is where the majority of the casualties are occurring,” he added.

According to the figures in 2015 more than 5,000 Afghan forces were killed and over 14,000 were wounded in the fight against the insurgents.

Nicolson said Akhtar Mansour, the supreme leader of Taliban who was killed in US drone strike, had tight control of Taliban finances.

“So what we’re seeing are some indications that some of the finances of the organization have been disrupted,” he said.

U.S. commander also added that Mansour’s successor, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, is not a unifying figure within the Taliban ranks and the group were struggling after the killing of Mansour.

Despite the previouse plan last week U.S. president Barak Obama announced that he plans to keep 8,400 US troops until the end of his term.

U.S. allies also renewed their commitments on Saturday to support the Afghan security forces till 2020.

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Five wounded in Kabul explosion

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

At least five people including Islamic Emirate (IE) forces were wounded on Monday morning when a roadside mine detonated in PD7 along Darulaman Road.

The explosion took place at about 9.45am local time close to Habibia High School and the target appeared to have been a Hilux vehicle.

According to eyewitnesses, the explosion had been from a roadside mine and caused casualties.

Some eyewitnesses said the Hilux vehicle was being driven by IE forces at the time of the explosion.

An Ariana News reporter in the area said according to eyewitnesses at least five people were wounded in the explosion including IE forces.

Immediately after the explosion, IE forces cordoned off the area, and ambulances were seen arriving at the scene.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the explosion but ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan (ISIS-K), known locally as Daesh, have been responsible for a number of explosions in Kabul in recent months.

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World Bank works to redirect frozen funds for humanitarian aid only

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

The World Bank is finalizing a proposal to deliver up to $500 million from a frozen Afghanistan aid fund to humanitarian agencies, people familiar with the plans told Reuters, but it leaves out tens of thousands of public sector workers and remains complicated by U.S. sanctions.

Board members will meet informally on Tuesday to discuss the proposal, hammered out in recent weeks with U.S. and U.N. officials, to redirect the funds from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which has a total of $1.5 billion, Reuters reported.

Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty three months after the the former government collapsed.

Afghan experts said the aid will help, but big gaps remain, including how to get the funds into Afghanistan without exposing the financial institutions involved to U.S. sanctions, and the lack of focus on state workers, the sources said.

The money will go mainly to addressing urgent health care needs in Afghanistan, where less than 7% of the population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, they said.

For now, it will not cover salaries for teachers and other government workers, a policy that the experts say could hasten the collapse of Afghanistan’s public education, healthcare and social services systems.

They warn that hundreds of thousands of workers, who have been unpaid for months, could stop showing up for their jobs and join a massive exodus from the country.

The World Bank will have no oversight of the funds once transferred into Afghanistan, said one of the sources familiar with the plans. A U.S. official stressed that UNICEF and other recipient agencies would have “their own controls and policies in place.”

“The proposal calls for the World Bank to transfer the money to the U.N. and other humanitarian agencies, without any oversight or reporting, but it says nothing about the financial sector, or how the money will get into the country,” the source said, calling U.S. sanctions a major constraint.

While the U.S. Treasury has provided “comfort letters” assuring banks that they can process humanitarian transactions, concern about sanctions continues to prevent passage of even basic supplies, including food and medicine, the source added.

“We’re driving the country into the dust,” said the source. Crippling sanctions and failure to take care of public sector workers will “create more refugees, more desperation and more extremism.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed that Washington is working with the World Bank and other donors on how to use the funds, including potentially paying those who work in “critical positions such as healthcare workers and teachers.”

The spokesperson said the U.S. government remains committed to meeting the  critical needs of the  Afghan people, “especially across health, nutrition, education, and food security sectors … but international aid is not a silver bullet.”

Established in 2002 and administered by the World Bank, the ARTF was the largest financing source for Afghanistan’s civilian budget, which was more than 70% funded by foreign aid.

The World Bank suspended disbursements after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover. At the same time, Washington stopped supplying U.S. dollars to the country and joined in freezing some $9 billion in Afghan central bank assets and halting financial assistance.

One major problem is the lack of a mechanism to monitor disbursements of funds in Afghanistan to ensure Taliban leaders and fighters do not access them, a third source said.

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Export of Afghanistan’s talc resumes: Industrial Association

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Afghanistan Industrial Association said Monday that Kabul recently exported 500 tons of talc powder to a number of countries including China, Spain and the UK.

Abdul Jabbar Safi, the head of the association, said: “Afghanistan has recently exported talc to Pakistan, Turkey, India, China, Spain, and the UK. Exports have resumed and we want to expand our exports.”

The association meanwhile also called for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to focus on the mining sector and provide facilities for the extraction of minerals in order to boost investment.

They also called on government to establish new policies around mining, also to boost investment in the sector.

Safi meanwhile said that since the mid-August takeover by the IEA, “illegal extractions of mines, as well as smuggling, have been prevented.”

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