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Kidnapped Balkh child turns 10 while still being held hostage

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: April 8, 2021)

Abdul Raouf, the Balkh boy kidnapped six months ago, celebrated his tenth birthday Thursday – a day that saw his emotional parents plead with government to help get their boy back.

The child’s mother said it was extremely difficult for her to not be with her son on his special day – especially as they have celebrated every birthday of his until now.

“Today is Abdul Raouf’s birthday, but he is not with us, and it is very difficult for us today, and if he was with us, we would celebrate his birthday today,” said his mother Zuhra.

The boy’s parents are also devastated about government not having been able to secure the release of their child, six months after he was kidnapped.

In a bid to push government to do more to release the child, the family has carried out a sit-in protest, in tents, outside the Balkh governor’s office for the past five months.

Mohammad Nabi, Abdul Raouf’s father, said that government officials had done nothing to help them except make promises.

“These people (government officials) have a harder heart than a stone and they do not care about anyone, and if they cared about someone, they would have found a clue [to his whereabouts] in six months,” said his father Mohammad Rafi.

One of the protesters said the kidnappers want money in exchange for Abdul Raouf, and every few days the family receives threatening messages.

“Nowadays the kidnappers are demanding one million and two hundred thousand dollars ($1.2 million),” said Kamal, one of the protesters.

Security officials meanwhile have stated they carried out numerous operations in the search for the child and that they have arrested suspects but in recent weeks, no new information has been shared with the media.


Kabul residents come out en mass in support of security forces

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 3, 2021)

Thousands of Kabul residents took to the streets of the city at 9pm on Tuesday night chanting slogans, including Allahu Akbar (God is Great), in support of the Afghan security forces who are battling the Taliban on multiple fronts across Afghanistan. 

In addition to chanting slogans, residents waved the country’s flag, showing support for the republic system and the government forces. 

Thousands more stood on the roofs of their houses and collectively raised their voices while others shouted out the windows of apartment blocks. 

Just one hour earlier, however, the city was rocked by a car bomb that exploded outside the acting defense minister, Bismillah Mohammadi’s house in Sherpur in the center of Kabul. 

But the explosion spurred people on to come out in their droves to show their support for the country’s troops – some of whom were still fighting militants who had stormed Mohammadi’s residence after the explosion. 

Nangarhar residents also joined in and took to the streets in Jalalabad on Tuesday night, while Herat residents started the movement on Monday night. 

The show of support comes a day after President Ashraf Ghani addressed a joint session of the upper and lower houses of parliament, the Meshrano Jirga and the Wolesi Jirga, on Monday and called on MPs and Senators to use their influence to mobilize the country to stand by the security forces. 

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Car bomb detonated outside acting defense minister’s home in Kabul

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 3, 2021)

Militants targeted the acting minister of defense, Bismillah Mohammadi’s house in the center of Kabul on Tuesday evening after detonating an explosives-laden car. 

The explosion in Sherpur area, in PD10, ripped through the city at about 8pm.

According to officials, after the explosion, assailants stormed Mohammadi’s house. They said Mohammadi was safe but there were casualties among his bodyguards. 

However, details have not yet been released. 

Meanwhile, sources told Ariana News that at least ten people were wounded in the explosion and had been taken to hospital. 

Security forces have been deployed in the area and are reportedly still engaged in a gun battle with the assailants.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Former vice-president Younus Qanuni meanwhile said in a voice message that Mohammadi was not at home at the time of the attack and “his family members were evacuated from the attack scene.”

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French envoy says Taliban will ‘never have total control of the people’

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: August 3, 2021)

David Martinon, the French Ambassador to Kabul said this week that France is very disappointed in the slow progress around the peace talks but that the Afghan Republic has made huge concessions while the Taliban has not done the same.

In an exclusive interview with Ariana News, he said: “We felt a very strong willingness from the republican side to try and find common ground. We have seen that the republic has made huge concessions, we are still expecting the concessions from the Talib side. The Republic agreed on the demand of the US to release 50,000 prisoners; we also made sacrifices at the time,” he said adding that some of the prisoners released were “murderers of French citizens”.

“It gives us the impression that the Taliban are just in a way faking the negotiations and buying time and that they favor of [their] military action; we were disappointed by that,” he said.

“We called the Taliban to stop their military offensives and to stop their violations of human rights, especially women’s rights; whatever they believe that they can achieve but force, they will never have a total control of the Afghan people like that,” he said adding that this is why France believes there is a need for a political settlement.

He said everything that the Taliban has been doing over the past three months points to the group wanting to seize power by force.

On this point, he said “we call the Taliban to stop their military offensive,” to stop everything they are doing in the areas they control, “the looting, the killing of civilians, the repression of women’s rights; everything we get reports on is incredibly concerning,” he said.

Martinon noted that the Taliban should “think twice about what they are trying to achieve in Afghanistan” and that they should start to consider what would be good for their country and for the people.

He questioned whether the looting, destroying critical infrastructure like power lines and power grids, telecommunications networks, and roads and bridges was really in the interests of the Afghan people.

“I have my doubts and I guess everyone in the country has doubts about that,” he said.

Martinon pointed out that the Afghan people have spent the past 20 years rebuilding the country and that “if the Taliban believe that the population in Afghanistan is not attached to them (the achievements made in this time) they will be heavily surprised.”

He said “should the Taliban decide to try and destroy this heritage this legacy, this democratic legacy, should they keep on taking their distance with the values of the republic, again, the right to vote, democratic gains, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, equality for all and especially equality between men and women, well then why would we keep on supporting the country.”

He said the French leaders would not support a regime that does not respect human rights.

“I’m talking about a scenario that we should prevent, this is not the future we want for Afghanistan, we want the preservation and the strengthening of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

However, France’s top envoy to Afghanistan spoke about the horrors that are being committed by the Taliban around the country.

Clearly disturbed by images and videos sent to him, he said: “I have never been I have never seen more disturbing images than the ones I keep on receiving.”

“I see videos of beheadings, you know, Afghan citizens being beheaded like goats. I saw images of a young man being stoned to death. I see images of a young man whose hand is being cut.

“I mean is that what they want for the future of their country? Really do they believe that they will be, they will gain international legitimacy by doing so?”

“This is unbearable; these are atrocities; these are videos you can’t even watch,” he said.

He pointed out however that Afghanistan should not always blame their neighboring countries for their “intrusions and interferences” and that in the event of strong national unity within Afghanistan “no neighboring country would dare to intrude into domestic policies in Afghanistan

But he said that given the current situation, all the neighboring countries have interests in common “and this is why they should step up; they should get together and try to express to the two parties that these interests need to meet some responses from them”.

He said that it is obvious that China, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan are extremely concerned about the frontier they have
with Afghanistan for several reasons.

We have to listen to what their leaders say, he said adding “they are concerned of the terrorist threats; they are concerned about migrations; there are concerns about narco-trafficking; all these concerns should in a way lead them to have a more constructive dialogue with them and to try to engage in probably in a stronger way with the two parties in conflict in Afghanistan, and probably with mostly with the Taliban,” he said.

He also stated that Afghanistan and Pakistan need each other and that their historical ties are very strong and one example is that strong trade links between the two countries.

“But if you want to establish stability and to build prosperity in the region it is obvious that both countries have to understand what can be the long-term economic interest and obviously they should work even more together.”

He said however that he did not think there was any country in the region that “welcome the establishment of a Taliban regime in Afghanistan”.

“The Taliban have to understand that any form of the long-lasting disorder plus violations of human rights and no respect for democracy, the democratic legacy of the republic, can only have devastating consequences on the neighbors and the neighbors won’t accept that because they won’t be able to handle you know waves of Afghan migrants trying to escape that strange regime (Taliban) from another century,” he said.

Martinon said that everything the Taliban is doing is being scrutinized by the neighboring countries and even by Iran, and by China – who is also concerned about their frontier.

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