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Assassination of FEFA head sparks widespread criticism

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(Last Updated On: December 23, 2020)
Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah along with the foreign community in Kabul have strongly condemned the assassination on Wednesday of Yousuf Rashid, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA).
 
Rashid and his driver were gunned down in PD7 in Kabul on Wednesday morning. 
 
Photos and footage from the scene showed shattered glass and a blood splattered vehicle which was testimony to the barrage of bullets fired at the two men. 
 
The Presidential Palace (ARG) stated in a series of tweets that Ghani has shared his condolences with the families and colleagues of the victims and that he condemned the attack. 
 
The president “vehemently condemns today’s terrorist attack on Mr. Rashid Head of an Election Watch and terms it a cowardly and appalling attack on our freedom and democracy,” ARG tweeted.
 
Abdullah also issued a short statement on Twitter and said that killing is not a solution to the crisis.
 
“The cowardly attack & killing of Yosuf Rasheed, the Executive Director of Free & Fair Election Forum of AFG (FEFA)…Terror & killing is not the answer to the current crisis of the country,” tweeted Abdullah.
 
Mohammad Mirza Katawazai, First Deputy Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in turn said on Twitter he was deeply saddened by the killing of Rashid “who was a forward looking, progressive young Afghan who wanted a truly functioning democracy in the country.”
 
Meanwhile, foreign embassies in Afghanistan also condemned the attacks and praised Rashid for his hard work and achievements in working to secure a free and transparent election system.
 
US Chargé d’Affaires, Ross Wilson, said: “I am appalled by his murder, another in a cacophony of senseless & endless violence.” 
 
Wilson said Rashid’s death is a loss to his family, friends and the nation.
 
In his tweet, Wilson stated: “Yousuf Rasheed was a dedicated & steadfast advocate for representative democracy in Afghanistan. He worked tirelessly for years to ensure free & transparent elections that engaged all Afghans.”
 
The Netherlands Embassy in Kabul also condemned the attack and shared their condolences with his family and colleagues.
 
The embassy also expressed its concern over the recent and continued attacks on civil society activists in Afghanistan.
 
Sweden meanwhile said it was “appalled by the killing of Mr. Rasheed, head of Sweden’s long-term partner Free Election Afghanistan. Targeting of civil society activists is unacceptable.”
 
Meanwhile, Rashid’s brother, Abdulbaqi Rashid, said Wednesday the Afghan government needs to be held accountable and asked how much longer young Afghans need to be sacrificed.
 
He said that Rashid’s death is not only a loss for his family but for the whole country.
 
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in turn called on the government to provide security to journalists, civil society members and human rights activists in the country.
 
According to the AIHRC the perpetrators should also be held accountable.
 
This comes amid a sharp increase in targeted killings in either shootings or magnetic IEDS across the country in recent weeks. 
 
In light of this the UN on Wednesday warned that assassinations are “taking place at a deeply disturbing rate” across Afghanistan. 
 
In a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, UNAMA stated that it “mourns the loss of so many outstanding citizens, condemns those responsible and urges authorities to bring them to account.”
 
The mission emphasized that in the past four days “Afghanistan has seen the killing of an MP, a well known journalist, a group of medics and head of a leading election watchdog.”
 
“Such dreadful attacks are rarely claimed and frequently focus on those working for an open society,” UNAMA stated. 
 
“The UN repeats its call for a sustained reduction in violence. Lives and gains must be protected, with spoilers prevented from undermining the vital peace negotiations, due to resume 5 January.”

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Muttaqi calls on international community to recognize IEA government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Foreign acting Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi accused the international community on Friday (October 15) of “violating the rights of Afghan people” by not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

Speaking to Reuters on the second day of a two-day visit to Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Muttaqi said he discussed the recognition of the IEA’s government with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as well.

“The fact that all of them are recognized and the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is not recognized is an injustice and oppression of the Afghan people… Afghanistan wants positive relations with the world and the world must respond positively to this message,” he said.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and IEA forces swept into Kabul, the IEA administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the IEA has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the workforce and education of girls.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity.

“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Cavusoglu said.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and have urged those countries to increase engagement.

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Blast targets mosque in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

A large explosion ripped through a mosque in the southern Kandahar province on Friday afternoon.

The blast happened at the Shi’ite Fatimiya mosque during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties.

Sources said at least 34 people were killed and 69 others wounded in the explosion. Afghan officials have not confirmed the casualties so far.

Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, has told Reuters that authorities were collecting details of the explosion.

The blast took place days after a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State on a Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed and wounded more than 200 people.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast, coming so soon after the Kunduz attack underlined the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Islamic State has stepped up operations following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.

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Turkey underlines need for inclusive Afghan government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

In talks with the delegation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey on Thursday reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity, Reuters reported.

Turkey repeated its advice to the visiting IEA delegation on girls’ education and women’s employment in business life, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference following a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara.

Muttaqi led an IEA delegation for an official visit to Turkey to discuss bilateral issues as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

The IEA officials have pledged to provide the utmost support to Afghan refugees who want to return to the country from Turkey, added Cavusoglu.

He also underlined that the IEA delegation conveyed requests to Turkey during the meeting, especially on humanitarian aid and continued investment in Afghanistan.

Last month, Cavusoglu said Turkey has contributed to stabilization and development efforts in Afghanistan, including on the education of girls and empowerment of women since the 1920s, adding that Ankara continues providing humanitarian aid through the Turkish Red Crescent.

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