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Taliban prisoner release request sparks angry response 

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2020)

Responding to US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson’s comment about the Taliban wanting the release of an additional 7,000 prisoners, Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC) said on Tuesday that such a move, before a peace agreement and a permanent ceasefire, will not help the peace process.

Rahmatullah Andar, spokesman for the NSC, said that government had been severely criticized for having released 5,000 Taliban prisoners about three months ago – a move that had been heavily influenced by the US.

“Releasing or not releasing Taliban prisoners will not affect the peace process. Government released 5,000 Taliban prisoners in order to bring a reduction in violence, but the move sparked criticism,” said Andar.

On Sunday, the US’s envoy to Afghanistan, Wilson, told reporters that the Taliban – under the US-Taliban agreement – want their 7,000 prisoners to be released by mid-December.

“Under the terms of the US-Taliban agreement, the Taliban expect there would be progress on releasing 7,000 prisoners by roughly mid-December,” he said.

According to Wilson, all of the provisions of the US-Taliban agreement are interlocked with one another.

Meanwhile, Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, Speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) said since the release of the 5,000 prisoners, there has been a marked increase in violence – instead of a decrease.

“Unfortunately after the release of the Taliban prisoners violence increased. People have been threatened and have made sacrifices,” said Muslimyar.

An administrative delegation of the Meshrano Jirga meanwhile urged government not to release any more Taliban prisoners until a peace agreement and lasting ceasefire is in place.

“The experience of releasing Taliban prisoners should not be repeated. Taliban [prisoners] should not be released until a peace deal has been signed,” said Mohammad Alam Ezadyar, deputy speaker.

“We do not want our president deceived by the US. No prisoners should be released until a real ceasefire [is in place],” said Faisal Sama, a secretary of the house.

The members of the Meshrano Jirga also warned that compromises being made by the US and Taliban will not be accepted by Afghans, especially compromises that lead to the increase in violence.

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Eight killed in car bomb outside acting defense minister’s house

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2021)

At least eight people were killed and more than 20 wounded on Tuesday night in a car bomb explosion outside the house of acting defense minister Bismillah Mohammadi, the Ministry of Interior confirmed Wednesday.

“At least eight people, including a woman, were killed and more than 20 others were injured in the car bomb attack,” the ministry said in a statement.

Immediately after the explosive-laden car was detonated, militants stormed the house.

A fire fight ensued, which lasted for five hours.

“The clash ended after five hours between special forces and fighters last night,” the statement said.

According to the ministry five attackers were reportedly involved in the incident.

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

On Tuesday night officials said Mohammadi was safe.

Hours after the attack Mohammadi issued a video message and said he and his family were safe following a “terrorist attack” on his residence in Kabul.

He said some of his security guards had been wounded.

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh meanwhile met with Mohammadi in his office on Wednesday morning.

So far no group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

In addition to Tuesday night’s explosion, Kabul police confirmed an IED was detonated at about 08:15 on Wednesday morning, in PD10 in Kabul.

Police said two people were wounded in the incident.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack on the home of the acting defense minister and said that the Taliban’s war is about sedition and corruption and that a stand should be taken against such people according to divine instructions.

Ghani also said the show of support for the security forces seen over the last two days will continue in other parts of the country.

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Anti-corruption efforts need to be stepped up: UN report

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2021)

Stepping up ongoing efforts to address corruption in Afghanistan remains critical, the UN said Wednesday in a new report.

UNAMA’s fifth annual anti-corruption report, titled “Afghanistan’s Fight against Corruption: Stepping up integrity, transparency and accountability,” finds that Afghanistan has taken positive steps towards establishing solid anti-corruption legal and institutional frameworks but that numerous shortcomings remain, including the need to further increase transparency, integrity, and accountability.

According to the report, and to government’s credit, during the period covered by the report, from January 2020 to May 2021, government continued supporting anti-corruption reforms.

The worsening impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing peace talks and increased violence after the announcement of international troops’ withdrawal, have however slowed down the pace of reforms, the report stated.

The report acknowledges positive developments such as the establishment in November last year of the Anti-Corruption Commission in line with the UN Convention Against Corruption.

The report further acknowledges an increase in the number of cases processed by the specialized anti-corruption tribunal (Anti-Corruption Justice Center) and the important role of the Supreme Court in increasing accountability, which should reduce corruption-related crimes.

It recommends enhancing the capacity of law enforcement to detect corruption crimes and arrest alleged perpetrators regardless of their status.

“Effectively fighting corruption goes hand in hand with increasing State legitimacy, prosperity and stability,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

While progress is being made in strengthening legal and institutional frameworks in particular, ongoing efforts to enhance monitoring and oversight mechanisms; streamline public funding and revenue management; and increasing transparency, integrity and impunity, need to be stepped up.

The report argues that it is time to take stock of the impact of anti-corruption reforms and increase genuine and sustained efforts to effectively address remaining gaps, including by reinforcing the effectiveness of monitoring and oversight mechanisms.

Considering the critical role of civil society and media in fostering transparency and exposing corruption, the report recommends that anti-corruption stakeholders continue engaging and supporting civil society and media. It also encourages government to protect media given the alarming increase of attacks targeting journalists.

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Security Council condemns attack on UN compound in Herat

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2021)

The members of the UN Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack on the United Nations compound in Herat that took place on Friday and resulted in the death of one security guard.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the UN said: “The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern about the high levels of violence in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s military offensive, and called for an immediate reduction of violence.

“They also expressed deep concern about the number of reported serious human rights abuses and violations in communities affected by the ongoing armed conflict across the country,” the statement read.

Members of the UNSC emphasized that all parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, including those related to the protection of civilians.

They underlined that deliberate attacks targeting civilians, United Nations personnel and United Nations compounds may constitute war crimes, and stressed the urgent and imperative need to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The UNSC also called on both the Afghan government and the Taliban to engage meaningfully in an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process in order to make urgent progress towards a political settlement and a ceasefire.

The members of the Security Council recognized that a sustainable peace can be achieved only through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process that aims at a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, as well as an inclusive, just and realistic political settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

UN Security Council calls for immediate end of #Afghanistan violence. UNSC says its deeply concerned about serious human rights violations. Deliberate attacks against Afghan civilians or UN trying to help Afghans may be war crimes.

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