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More than 50 inmates escape during Jalalabad prison attack

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(Last Updated On: August 2, 2020)

At least 50 prisoners escaped from the Jalalabad prison during Sunday night’s attack that started when a car bomb was detonated outside the facility’s gate.

Security sources have said that at least 15 of the escapees have been recaptured.

This comes as security forces continue to battle militants who stormed the prison shortly after the 6:44pm explosion.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, Attaullah Khogyani, said two people have been killed and 24 wounded so far. The wounded have been taken to hospital where some are reported to be in critical condition.

The Taliban has denied any responsibility in the attack.

But officials have said a well-coordinated assault on Jalalabad has been carried out after a number of explosions were reported in the city after the initial prison car bomb.

A security official said earlier that rockets had been fired at the local airport. No further details were given.

 

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Taliban ignoring calls for reduction in violence: US envoy

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2020)

Despite concerted efforts on the part of the United States to get the Taliban to reduce its levels of violence in the country, the group has failed to listen to calls from the US and in fact dislike being criticized.

Speaking virtually to the media on Monday, the US Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan Ross Wilson said the United States has not been able to convince the Taliban to scale down on violent attacks.

There has been a marked increase in violence by the Taliban since the signing of the US-Taliban deal in February in Doha.

In line with this, Wilson said: “We are deeply concerned about the Taliban’s [increase in] violence since February 29, it is not consistent with the terms that we believe we agreed upon with the Taliban.

“We have told the Taliban this very clearly and directly many times, they don’t like the criticism from us, they don’t like the implied criticism from the United Nations, from the EU from other international communities.

“I regret deeply that we have not yet had more success in and seeing or generally having resulting decrease in the level of violence of the very significant reduction that we believe was part of the deal in February and that has not materialized; certainly not that we have expected or that we would like to expect,” said Wilson.

Wilson added that he has also spoken to a number of media outlets to address challenges and threats against journalists and added that efforts are underway to find solutions.

“We strongly support free and independent media in this country; last week with media figures [we] talked about specific problem of assassinations, threats against journalists and how we in this country and other international firms can help to address that problem,” Wilson added.

Experts believe that the Taliban continue to use violence to gain points in peace talks.

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Nine Australian soldiers commit suicide in just three weeks

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2020)

Nine Australian soldiers have taken their own lives in just three weeks amid weeks of discussions and media coverage of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, the Daily Mail reported. 

The four-year inquiry uncovered a ‘shameful record’ of unlawful killings that took place outside the ‘heat of battle’.

An edited version of the report was released on Thursday after a four-year inquiry uncovered a “shameful record” of unlawful killings. 

The Daily Mail reported that in the past three weeks one female and eight male soldiers, aged between early 20s and 50s, have taken their own lives. 

According to the news report, so many soldiers taking their own lives in such a short space of time is believed to be unprecedented in recent Australian military history.

It is believed the stress of the inquiry – which uncovered evidence of 39 murders by Australian Special Forces – played a part in some of their suicides, the Daily Mail stated.

‘I think some of the media [reports of alleged war crimes] has been painting everyone with the same brush and people seem to have forgotten about innocence until proven guilty – and that adds additional stress,’ ex-infantry soldier and veterans’ mental health advocate Neil ‘Wally’ Wallace told The Advertiser. 

However, the Mail reported that there is no suggestion the nine late ADF members had anything to do with the alleged war crimes documented in the report.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation said in reaction to the report: “There is no way to define this brutality. There is no way to explain what has happened. It is incomprehensible.”

“These are crimes against innocent people, and I was shocked. At the same time, the Australian government has come very clear with it – about what has happened.”

Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson meanwhile told Al Jazeera that the Afghan victims deserve swift and independent justice for the “deliberate and cold-blooded killings”.

“Ultimately, if we’re talking about accountability, this should not just stop with the people who pulled the trigger and killed these people in Afghanistan,” she told the BBC.

“This is also about command responsibility and so I think that it’s very important that those who knew or who should have known are also held to account and are held criminally liable for these acts.”

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NATO to decide in new year about leaving Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2020)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday night that “what is clear now is that the US is going to reduce [troop levels in Afghanistan] but they are not going to leave.”

Speaking to Halifax International, Stoltenberg also said that NATO would have to make the decision early next year on whether to stay or to leave Afghanistan. 

In the meantime, the US will continue to provide support to the other NATO Allies in Afghanistan, he said. 

“We have to remember that more than half of the troops in Afghanistan now are non-US – they are European Allies and also partner nations. 

“We are in Afghanistan to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists, a platform where terrorists can plan, organize, finance, launch terrorist attacks against our countries,” Stoltenberg said. 

He also said NATO strongly supports the current peace talks taking place between the government and Taliban and pointed out that part of the agreement between the US and the Taliban in February stated that all foreign troops should be out of Afghanistan by May 1 next year. 

“So early next year, we need to make a very hard decision. That’s: whether we leave and risk to lose the gains we have made, but then at least we can be out of Afghanistan; or whether we stay and then continue to be involved in the very challenging and demanding military operation in Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg said. 

“My message is that we need to assess whether the conditions for leaving are met, together. We need to make these decisions together. And as we have said many times in NATO: we went into Afghanistan together, we should make decisions on adjustments of a presence there together, and when the time is right we should leave together, but then in a coordinated and orderly way.” 

The US is expected to reduce its number of troops from 4,500 to about 2,500 in the coming weeks – while NATO has an estimated 11,000 troops still in Afghanistan. 

 

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