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Taliban expected to release last of govt prisoners ahead of Eid 

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2020)

Suheil Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said on Wednesday night that the group would release the remaining prisoners before Eid al-Adha. 

In a statement on Twitter, Shaheen said: “Today, a total of 28 soldiers and policemen of the Kabul Administration were released from prisons of the Islamic Emirate in Baghlan and Logar provinces. They were sent to their families after having received financial help for transportation fare.”

He then called on the Afghan government to reciprocate by releasing the remainder of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as per the US-Taliban agreement signed earlier this year in Doha. 

Shaheen also stated that this should be “according to the list already provided in order to pave the way for the inception of intra-Afghan negotiations.”

He said that the group’s decision to release the remaining prisoners in their custody was “a goodwill gesture” ahead of the Eid holidays. 

So far, the prisoner swap issue has been seen as an obstacle in the way of much hoped for intra-Afghan talks. 

However, President Ashraf Ghani said earlier this week while addressing the fourth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul that to demonstrate the government’s commitment to peace, they would soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

Ghani said that “with this action we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week’s time.”

He also called on the Taliban to join the government at the negotiating table and to call for a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

A “commitment to a ceasefire during the coming Eid will be an indication of things to come,” he added.

Within hours of Ghani having said this, the Taliban issued their statement on Twitter announcing the three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Adha.

Soon after, government announced it would reciprocate and also called a truce over Eid.

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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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