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Taliban Attack Kill 14 Civilians, Members of Public Uprising Forces in Herat

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(Last Updated On: August 28, 2019)

At least fourteen public uprising forces and civilians were killed in an attack by the Taliban militants in western Herat province, police said on Wednesday.

Abdul Ahad Walizada, a spokesman for the provincial police told Ariana News that the insurgents attacked Chahar Dara area of Keshi-Rubati Sangi, Dari name, district of the province at around 12 am last night.

Walizada said, as a result, at least 14 public uprising forces and civilians were killed and 10 others injured in the incident.

He added that women and children were also among the casualties and wounded individuals.

Walizada further said that the Taliban’s attack has been pushed back as the backup troop arrived at the area.

Afghan forces have also inflicted heavy casualties to the militants, the official added but did not provide further details.

However, the Taliban militant group has claimed in a statement that at least 11 public police were killed in the incident and three more were wounded.

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Taliban shall follow political goals through democratic ways: Ghani

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban should pursue their political goals through democratic ways such as taking part in the Afghan elections. 

Speaking at a summit to strengthen the global consensus on peace hosted in Kabul, Ghani said that the group could take part in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Representatives from 19 countries and international organizations including NATO, the United Nations, the European Union had participated in the summit.

President Ghani stressed that the Taliban must be present within the framework of the republican system. Much of the president’s speech focused on global support in Afghanistan’s peace talks. Ashraf Ghani said the government is investigating the release of 1,000 Taliban prisoners from the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Reconciliation Council, also said that the government has boost efforts to finalize the process of releasing prisoners, saying that the first round of intra-Afghan talks would be held in Qatar a week after the completion of the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Abdullah stressed that the ceasefire is the main agenda of the first round of talks.

“At the moment as we are well aware, the first round will be held in Doha. The initial understanding is that after the completion of exchange of prisoners, it will be one week after that,” Abdullah said, adding, “There is an understanding about the facilitation that the host country should do the facilitation, but on the details of the facilitation, the two sides needs to agree.”

The head of the High Reconciliation Council says that in the first round of talks between Afghans, the ceasefire will be the main agenda and that important issues will be prioritized. According to Abdullah Abdullah, strategies will be discussed in the negotiations on issues of serious disagreement.

He added, “We need to secure the commitment from the Taliban that it will not be a sort of one of the negotiations, but to secure their commitment, not only for deduction in violence in a comprehensive ceasefire but at the same time for continued engagement and as part of strategy, the first agenda will be ceasefire. How to strategize and prioritize it is important.”

The Taliban’s political bureau, however, accuses the Afghan government of delaying the release of prisoners on the pretext of delaying the start of talks between Afghans, although the office acknowledges that there are only a few Taliban prisoners left to be released until the number of released prisoners reaches 5,000.

“They say we have released 4,000 prisoners, but we say more than 3,000. But if they had released the same thousands of prisoners, negotiations would have started and other prisoners would have been released later. They are creating obstacles on the way of the process,” said Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar.

 The National Security Council says the Taliban have so far released about half of the 1,000 captured security forces. The council emphasizes that the government has so far released 4,099 Taliban prisoners, but the release of 592 prisoners who have been convicted of serious crimes such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, rape, stoning women, assassination, and other criminal offenses will not happen.

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Reporters Without Borders condemns arrests, harassment of Afghan journalists

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

Reporters without Borders has condemned the arrest of two journalists by NDS forces in Zabul and Khost and the harassment of Pajhwok news agency by Afghan government officials, calling on President Ghani and VP Amrullah Saleh, to abide by the media law. 

A report released by the Reporters without Borders said that Mahboobullah Hakimi, a correspondent for Radio Bayan in Zabul province, had been detained by the National Security Forces on the 11th of Saratan, Persian Calendar.

The report added that Mr. Hakimi’s accusation is publishing a comment on his Facebook page and calling President Ghani an infidel. Prior to his arrest, however, the reporter had released a video calling the comment a result of his page being hacked. According to the report, in a video released by the National Security Service, Hakimi confessed to the message and apologized.

“The Afghan government is putting pressure on freedom of expression, and by interrupting or at least opposing access to information and disrupting it, it is putting pressure on freedom of expression and the government is not following its commitments and the observance of the law is signed,” said Mujeeb Khalwatgar, executive director of Nai, Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan.

According to the report, on the 11th of Saratan, the National Security Forces of Khost Province inspected the home of Forough Jan Mangal, a local reporter and colleague of Reuters, and his brother, Saifullah Hayat, a representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists and taken them to the NDS in a disrespectful manner.

“The statement by Reporters without Borders against the misconduct of some government agencies against journalists is true and clear,” said Siddiqullah Tawhidi, director of Tawhidi Lawsuits of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “It does not take into account the complaints of journalists. It causes serious problems for journalists with illegal decisions and actions.”

Reporters say that in addition to the threat and lack of safety for journalists, the lack of access to information is one of the more serious challenges that the government pays little attention to.

Reporters without Borders says Pajhwok Afghan News recently came under direct and indirect pressure from government officials following the release of a report on the smuggling and sale of 32 ventilators to Pakistan.

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Russia in contact with Taliban, Haqqani network: US

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(Last Updated On: July 10, 2020)

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirms that Russia is in contact with the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other groups in Afghanistan, saying that it is taking advantage of this connection.

Responding to the US Congressional hearings on reports that Russia offers bounties to the Taliban militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan, Esper said that he still has no confirmed information on the matter.

“I didn’t see the first reports until February. I think Gen. McKenzie and Gen. Miller get some initial reporting on the ground that they began pursuing. Neither thought the reports were credible, as they dug into them,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says Russia and some other countries have provided financial and training support to the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan for years.

“We are not done looking. We are going to dig into this. I am an outrage general just like every one of us in uniform is. If in fact these bounties directed by the government of Russia or any of their institutions to kill American soldiers, that’s a big deal,” said Mark Milley Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Some former US troops on a mission in Afghanistan also speak of a deep relationship between the Taliban and Russia.

John Nicholson, a former commander of the Resolute Mission in Afghanistan believes that there is a bilateral deal between Russia and the Taliban calling it against the spirit of the peace agreement in Afghanistan.

This comes as Russia and the Taliban have called the report baseless, and Russia has accused US intelligence of smuggling drugs into Afghanistan.

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