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Ghani: another 500 Taliban prisoners will be released soon

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2020)

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, on Friday after the Eid al-Adha prayers at Arg said that the Afghan government will soon release another 500 Taliban prisoners, stressing that these prisoners are separate from the list provided by the Taliban.

In addition to the President, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High National Reconciliation Council, Amrullah Saleh, First Vice President, Sarwar Danesh, Second Vice President, former President Hamid Karzai, and other officials were present at the Eid prayer ceremony held at Arg.

Referring to the restrictions on this year’s Hajj, President Ghani lamented the non-participation of Afghans in this year’s Hajj due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, saying that the risk of the pandemic spreading has not yet been eliminated. He called on Afghans to take the Ministry of Health’s health advice seriously during Eid.

President Ghani also said that despite the fact that the Afghan government had no commitment in the US peace agreement with the Taliban, it had released 4,600 prisoners so far, according to the Taliban’s requested list, so that negotiations begin soon.

President Ghani said: “In response to the Taliban’s ceasefire, as a symbol of goodwill, and in order to speed up the peace process, I will release another 500 Taliban prisoners by the fourth day of Eid in addition to the list provided by the Taliban.”

Regarding the 400 detainees listed by the Taliban, Ghani said that he is not entitled to their release under the constitution and the penal code.

He added that for the release of these prisoners, the people of Afghanistan should be consulted and called for a consultative jirga.

It comes as Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said on Thursday the group has released 82 prisoners of the Afghan government from its captivity.

Shaheen noted that it has completed the process of releasing Afghan government prisoners, reaching a total released of 1000 inmates.

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Saleh lashes out over Kabul blast, says ‘rotten ideology’ must be rooted out

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Saturday night that ISIS Afghanistan (IS-K) and the Taliban share the same “ideological gene” and that the “rotten ideology” needs to be rooted out. 

Reacting to the deadly bombing earlier Saturday evening in a suburb of Kabul, Saleh tweeted: “The suicide attack at a private learning center in West of Kabul killed 11 and maimed many young hopefuls. The rotten ideology of quest for false heaven has to be rooted out. Talibs & IS-K share the same ideological gene. They are together at tactical level now. Future ?!”

Within half an hour of Saleh’s tweet, the death toll in the suicide bombing had however risen to 13. 

Saleh was one of many who condemned the incident and questioned the high levels of violence despite ongoing peace talks in Doha. 

Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, posted on Twitter and said: “Yet another senseless, cruel attack in Kabul. Civilians going about ordinary activities—walking down the street, sitting in lessons, or getting care in a hospital—continue to suffer sudden and terrifying violence. Why are their stories not told in the peace talks?”

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, also  condemned the attack and labeled it a “terrorist attack” that was “against Islamic and human values.” 

EU special representative for Afghanistan Roland Kobia also slammed the high levels of violence and said: “This and other recent attacks on provincial capitals illustrate the so-called ‘Reduction in Violence’. Enough. There must by full unity of the international community, + massive pressure for an immediate ceasefire asked by all Afghans.”

The attack came in an area of west Kabul that is home to many from the Shia community, a minority in Afghanistan that has been targeted by groups such as the Islamic State (IS-K) in the past.

Saturday’s incident happened when a suicide bomber tried to enter an education center but was prevented from doing so by the guards. He then detonated his explosives in a narrow alley. 

In the past, the area has witnessed deadly explosions that have killed dozens of people over the years. 

In 2018 dozens of students were killed in an explosion at another education center and in May this year, 24 people including mothers, babies and expectant mothers were killed when gunmen attacked a maternity ward at a hospital in the area. 

The Taliban meanwhile was quick to distance themselves from Saturday’s attack but no other group has yet accepted responsibility for the explosion.

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At least 13 killed in suicide bombing outside a Kabul college 

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

At least 13 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in a densely populated area of Kabul city. 

Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed Saturday evening that the death toll stands at 13 and about 30 others were wounded. 

He also stated that a suicide bomber had tried to enter the Kawsar-e Danish Training Center but was prevented from doing so by the guards at the gate. 

The suicide bomber then detonated his explosives in the alley, Arian said. 

Soon after the explosion, the Taliban’s spokesman distanced the group from the incident and stated they were not behind the attack. 

In a message on Twitter, Zabihullah Mujahid said “the Taliban was not responsible for the explosion in Pul-e Khoshk area [of Kabu].”

Videos posted on social media painted a grim picture of blood and bodies lying in the alley immediately after the incident. Local residents also frantically covered the victims with blankets while others carried the wounded to vehicles so they could be transported to hospital. 

No other group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.

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Civilians killed in Kabul city explosion

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

A number of people have been killed in an explosion that ripped through a densely built-up area in Pul-e-Khushk in Kabul city on Saturday evening.

The incident happened at about 5 pm local time.

Videos posted to social media show local residents frantically calling for blankets to cover bodies lying in a narrow lane while others assist the wounded. 

The exact number of people killed has not yet been confirmed. 

Early reports also indicate the explosion targeted an education facility in the area. 

Details to follow.

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