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NATO Defense Ministers agree to keep civilian footprint in country

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2021)

NATO Defence Ministers on Tuesday agreed that continued support for the Afghan forces, the government and the people is the best way for them to contribute towards the peace process and that they will keep a civilian diplomatic presence in Kabul.

In a virtual meeting Tuesday, the ministers also agreed to continue providing advice and capacity-building support to Afghan security forces.

Following the virtual meeting, which was convened to discuss preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit and the way forward in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are ending our military mission, but we are not ending our support to the Afghans.”

“We are also looking at how we can provide military education and training outside Afghanistan, focused on Special Operations Forces, and we are looking at how to fund the provision of services enabling Allies and the international community to stay in Kabul, including support for the airport.”

He said the drawdown of NATO forces is progressing in an orderly and coordinated way “and at every step, the safety of our personnel remains paramount.”

He also stated that NATO will continue its civilian diplomatic presence in Kabul.

“And we are also now working on how we can establish out of country training for the Afghan forces, especially the special operation forces. And then, on top of that, we are now working together with all the Allies, NATO Allies are working together to make sure that we can provide support to important infrastructure, to support the international community at large.

“We are fully aware that the situation in Afghanistan is challenging, fragile and difficult,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that over the past two decades, NATO Allies have provided substantive support to the Afghan security forces and helped to build a professional, strong Afghan army and security force, “which has proven very capable. And that has enabled [NATO] to gradually decrease our presence from more than 100,000 troops not so many years ago, to, at the beginning of this year,10,000 troops, and then we will end our military presence within a short time.”

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20 killed, 18 wounded in two separate traffic accidents in Laghman

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

Officials said Saturday 20 people including women and children were killed and 18 others wounded in two separate traffic accidents on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, Laghman provincial officials said.

Asadullah Dawlatzai, spokesman for the Laghman governor confirmed the accidents and said the first one happened on Friday night when two vehicles collided in Naranj Bagh area of Qarghayi district.

Eight people died and 10 were injured in this accident.

According to Dawlatzai, 12 other people were killed and eight injured in another traffic incident in Qarghayi district of the province on Saturday morning.

He said both accidents were caused by driver negligence.

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Czechs approve program to help Afghan translators

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

The Czech government on Friday approved a program of help for Afghans who worked with Czech troops during their deployment in NATO missions, AP reported.

Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said the help meant for Afghan interpreters and their families includes their relocation, an offer of asylum and financial aid.

Metnar said the goal of the program is to ensure safe and decent living conditions for them after NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan, AP reported.

The government’s move came days after the Czech veterans, current service members, human rights organizations and others urged the government to help resettle the Afghans because of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, AP reported.

President Milos Zeman asked his government on Thursday to approve the program without any delay because of fears that Afghans who worked with the Czech military could be killed by the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry declined to provide further details about the program, which is classified in order to protect its recipients, AP reported.

The number of Afghans wasn’t given.

The last Czech service members pulled out from Afghanistan in June.

Since 2002, a total of 11,500 Czech soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan, AP reported.

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UN office attacked in Herat, at least one guard killed

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2021)

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Friday that its main compound in western Herat province was attacked by “anti-government elements,” killing at least guard and other officers injured.

In a statement issued on Friday, UNAMA condemned in the “strongest terms” today’s attack.

“The area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting today between the Taliban and government forces,” the statement read. 

The UN added that it is urgently seeking to establish a full picture of the attack and for this purpose is in contact with the relevant parties.

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. 

“Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” Lyons stated.

 According to the statement, no UN personnel was hurt in the incident, in which entrances were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.

“The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account,” said Lyons.

 “Attacks against civilian UN personnel and compounds are prohibited under international law, and may amount to war crimes,” the UN noted.

Immediately, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sources, however, told Ariana News that at least six people – including two security guards of UNAMA, three policemen, and a member of the public uprising forces – were killed and 19 others were wounded in clashes with the Taliban militants in the Guzara, Anjel and Karokh districts at the outskirts of Herat city on Friday.

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