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At Least 23 Civilians Killed in Helmand Airstrike: UN Confirms

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2018)

Preliminary findings from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicate that as many as 23 civilians were killed and three injured in an airstrike in Garmser district of Helmand province during operations conducted by pro-government forces against Taliban in the area on Tuesday.

“Initial findings indicate that the vast majority of the victims were women and children,” UNAMA said in a statement.

The Mission is actively working to verify information indicating up to 10 children were killed along with eight women, and three children were injured, including an eight-year-old boy, the statement said.

According to the statement, the incident took place during an operation involving Afghan and international military forces, when international military forces conducted an airstrike following engagements between the forces on the ground and Taliban.

In addition, three days earlier, during fighting between Taliban and pro-government forces, three civilian homes were struck by explosive ordnance in Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand province, killing two civilians and injuring at least 14 more, including 10 children, reportedly after Taliban initiated an attack from the vicinity of civilian homes against an Afghan National Army convoy returning to its base, the UN statement noted.

“The Mission welcomes indications that relevant authorities have initiated investigations into the civilian casualty reports, and it will continue its independent enquiries to establish additional facts, sharing the findings with parties as part of advocacy efforts for improved mitigation measures in their future operations to prevent civilian casualties,” UNAMA said.

This comes as UNAMA has this year recorded a sharp increase in civilian casualties from aerial attacks in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

The 649 civilian casualties recorded between 1 January and 30 September 2018 is more than the number of civilian casualties from aerial operations recorded over every entire year since UNAMA began systematic civilian casualty documentation in 2009.

In the two incidents in Helmand province this week, UNAMA notes with particular concern that children were disproportionately impacted, comprising 55 percent of the civilian casualties.

UNAMA said that it reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm, and holds that all parties to the conflict must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to protect civilians.

COVID-19

Gov’t officials don’t follow health guidelines, social distancing

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

The failure to comply with health guidelines and social distancing in gatherings by a number of high-ranking government officials has been criticized.

Citizens blame officials for being negligent to the Coronavirus, saying that their behavior is a sign of the government’s reluctance in the fight against the virus.

In the latest instance, the chairman of the High Reconciliation Council amongst other officials attended a ceremony without abiding by the health guidelines and/or social distancing.

That is, Salem Izadiar’s commemoration ceremony with the presence of high-ranked government officials and citizens, including high-ranking officials – without keeping any of the health guidelines in mind, is considered to be one of the main causes of Coronavirus outbreak.

Additionally, the Minister of Interior Affairs, who is considered as one of the key officials in the fight against Coronavirus, also attended a meeting in Baghlan, not taking into account any social distancing and/or health measures.

It is worth mentioning that recently Rashid Bashir, the police chief of Kunduz province, and Fahim Qarluq, the governor of Qala-e-Zal district the province, died of the virus.

The Ministry of Public Health has frequently expressed concerns over social non-compliance with health guidelines and its dire consequences.

On the other hand, the death toll from the virus has increased; however, only a part of the fatalities are officially recorded, but a larger proportion of Covid-19 positive or suspicious deaths are, for some reason, not reported at all.

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Dr. Ayaz Niazi’s assassination triggers queries

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

The assassination of Dr. Ayaz Niazi, imam of the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, has raised questions and reactions.

Dr. Niazi became the target of an IED explosion at the mosque yesterday evening while preparing for the evening prayer.

He died at the hospital of deadly injuries.

A number of military experts have called yesterday’s incident a ‘political terrorist attack’ and blamed the security agencies for not preventing such attacks in Kabul.

Intelligence experts attribute the weakness in the intelligence agencies that leads to such horrific attacks.

President Ghani personally visited the Mohammad Dawood Khan hospital today and, while praying for the deceased and offering condolences to his family, he ordered security agencies to follow up on the incident.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has announced the formation of a delegation to investigate the incident and arrest its perpetrators.

About Dr. Ayaz Niazi:

Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was 56 years old and was born in Yamgan district of Badakhshan province. At the age of twelve, he learned the holy Quran by heart. After high school, he joined Al-Azhar University in Egypt and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Islamic Economics. Also, he had a Ph.D. in Islamic Jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Dr. Niazi served as a professor at the Faculty of Sharia at Kabul University and as imam at the Mohammad Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque.

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Covid-19 impacts; Afghanistan’s exports on hold

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

Afghanistan’s exports to other countries have been stalled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and no alternatives have been considered yet.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) blames the government for failing to remove hurdles in Afghanistan’s exports, saying that the private sector will lose millions of dollars if trade with neighboring countries does not resume.

Officials in ACCI say that trade routes with neighboring countries have been blocked since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the government has failed to find alternatives.

On the other hand, experts attribute the lack of work capacity in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan to the decline in exports to other countries.

“Officials at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan have failed to come up with a basic plan for exports and investment in the country,” experts say.

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country, a number of countries, including Iran and Pakistan, have closed their borders with Afghanistan.

In addition to the cessation of Afghanistan’s exports, this act sparked prices to rise domestically.

Meanwhile, experts and traders believe that the government should look for alternative ways to keep the drift of export and import alive.

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