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Thousands of Afghans flee their homes as fighting erupts

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(Last Updated On: May 5, 2021)

Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes in Helmand province as fierce fighting between government forces and the Taliban erupted after the US military began withdrawing its remaining troops.

AFP reports Afghan forces pushed back a string of insurgent attacks on checkpoints across the southern province, where the US military on Sunday handed over a base to government forces as part of its formal pullout that began on 1 May.

About 1,000 families have fled their homes to escape the fighting that erupted on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, and some other parts of the province, Sayed Mohammad Ramin, the region’s director for refugees told AFP.

He said the families had taken refuge in Lashkar Gah and had come from areas where fighting was intense in the past two days.

“We will survey their needs tomorrow, but many who still have not found shelter in the city need urgent assistance,” Ramin told AFP.

The defence ministry said government forces had killed more than 100 Taliban fighters in Helmand in the past 24 hours when the insurgents attacked some checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah.

Another 22 al-Qaida fighters from Pakistan were also killed in the fighting, the ministry said.

Officials said the Taliban fighters initially captured some checkpoints but they were retaken by government forces who pushed back the insurgents, AFP reported.

“The enemy has now lost all the areas it had captured and suffered heavy casualties,” Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP.

The Taliban said dozens of Afghan troops were killed in the fighting. Both sides are known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other.

UK-based medical care provider Emergency said it is receiving large numbers of “war wounded patients” at its surgical centre in Lashkar Gah due to widespread fighting in the area since 1 May.

It said the hospital received 106 patients, of which 65 had to be admitted.

“These are very difficult days in Lashkar Gah … We have also put beds in the physiotherapy room to accommodate all the injured patients,” Viktor Urosevic, medical coordinator at the hospital, said in a statement issued by Emergency.

Emergency’s Afghanistan coordinator, Marco Puntin, said fighting in Helmand was not an isolated event.

“We have witnessed an escalation of conflict across Afghanistan,” he said.

Fighting was also reported in several other provinces since the US military formally began pulling out its remaining 2,500 troops, AFP reported.

The Pentagon has downplayed the fighting.

“We’ve seen nothing thus far that has affected the drawdown, or had any significant impact on the mission at hand in Afghanistan,” US Department of Defence spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday.

Nearly 20 years after US and allied Natotroops invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban government as they pursued al-Qaida after the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Joe Biden ordered in April the final withdrawal.

On Tuesday, US officials said the military has completed two to six percent of the withdrawal.

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Tribal elders arrested after negotiating check post deals for Taliban

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2021)

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Sunday that a number of tribal elders who have acted as mediators to negotiate between government forces and the Taliban for handing over outposts to the militants have been arrested.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the MoI, said in series of tweets that “indeed, the act of them (elders) is a direct cooperation with the Taliban.”

“The Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have already been directed to arrest anyone who [acts as mediator],” Arian tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said Sunday that a number of districts are virtually under economic siege by the Taliban, and as roads are closed, people are not be able to access basic necessities, food, and services.

The organization stated that the use of economic blockades as a tactic of war deprives people of their right to life, of their ability to enjoy their economic rights, and therefore it is a crime.

AIHRC has called on the Taliban to immediately reopen the roads so that “people, who are affected by the drought and the outbreak of the coronavirus, have access to basic goods and services.”

This comes as four districts in four provinces fell to the Taliban in the past 24 hours, sources told Ariana News on Sunday, adding these were in Kunduz, Farah, Ghor, and Zabul provinces.

The districts are Ali Abad in Kunduz, Arghandab in Zabul, Saghar in Ghor, and Lash Jawin in Farah province.

However, security officials have not confirmed this yet.

According to Atta Jan Haq Bayan, the head of the Zabul provincial council, the Arghandab district government compound has been captured and forces have retreated.

“Headquarters of the district have fallen… and the army brigade also retreated and Taliban took over the district,” said Atta Jan Haq Bayan.

Local sources said that Saghar district in Ghor and Lash Jawin in Farah fell to the Taliban in the past 24 hours.

According to the sources, heavy clashes were ongoing in the Posht-Road district of Farah province.

“Jawin (Lash Jawin) and the Posht-Road were attacked, unfortunately, the Jawin district fell to the Taliban,” said Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council.

“Ghor province is in a crisis, three districts have fallen to the Taliban,” said Hamidullah Mutahid, a member of Ghor provincial council.

Afghan officials, meanwhile, said that these districts had not fallen to the Taliban but that the district centers had been relocated in consultation with locals.

Kunduz provincial council members meanwhile confirmed that the Ali Abad district center and some outposts had been seized by the Taliban. Security officials have not confirmed this.

“Enemy attacked security forces in Khan Abad and Ali Abad district,” said Inhamuddin, the spokesman for Kunduz police.

Meanwhile, heavy clashes have been ongoing between Taliban and security forces in nine districts in the eastern and southeastern zones of the country in the past 24 hours.

In addition, sources said that 42 public uprising force members have surrendered to the Taliban in Gardez city, the capital of Paktia province.

Sholgara district in Balkh province has also witnessed heavy clashes between the Taliban and security officials in the past 24 hours, officials said.

“Eight districts are under threat; Sholgara district is also under threat,” said Farhad Azimi, governor of Balkh province.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) meanwhile said the Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in the past 24 hours and at least 181 Taliban members have been killed in clashes.

“We assure people that enemies who posed great threats are defeated,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the MoD.

The Presidential Palace (ARG) also said that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) can defeat the Taliban.

“The ANDSF are able to provide security and defend the country’s sovereignty,” said Mohammad Amiri, deputy spokesman for ARG.

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Four districts in four provinces fall to the Taliban: Sources

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2021)

Four districts in four provinces fell to the Taliban in the past 24 hours, sources told Ariana News on Sunday, adding these were in Kunduz, Farah, Ghor and Zabul provinces.

The districts are Ali Abad in Kunduz, Arghandab in Zabul, Saghar in Ghor and Lash Jawin in Farah province.

However, security officials have not confirmed this yet.

According to Atta Jan Haq Bayan, the head of the Zabul provincial council, the Arghandab district government compound has been captured and forces have retreated.

“Headquarters of the district have fallen… and the army brigade also retreated and Taliban took over the district,” said Atta Jan Haq Bayan.

Local sources said that Saghar district in Ghor and Lash Jawin in Farah fell to the Taliban in the past 24 hours.

According to the sources heavy clashes were ongoing in Posht-Road district of Farah province.

“Jawin (Lash Jawin) and Posht-Road were attacked, unfortunately, the Jawin district fell to the Taliban,” said Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council.

“Ghor province is in a crisis, three districts have fallen to the Taliban,” said Hamidullah Mutahid, a member of Ghor provincial council.

Afghan officials, meanwhile, said that these districts had not fallen to the Taliban but that the district centers had been relocated in consultation with locals.

Kunduz provincial council members meanwhile confirmed that the Ali Abad district center and some outposts had been seized by the Taliban. Security officials have not confirmed this.

“Enemy attacked security forces in Khan Abad and Ali Abad district,” said Inhamuddin, the spokesman for Kunduz police.

Meanwhile, heavy clashes have been ongoing between Taliban and security forces in nine districts in the eastern and southeastern zones of the country in the past 24 hours.

In addition, sources said that 42 public uprising force members have surrendered to the Taliban in Gardez city, the capital of Paktia province.

Sholgara district in Balkh province has also witnessed heavy clashes between the Taliban and security officials in the past 24 hours, officials said.

“Eight districts are under threat; Sholgara district is also under threat,” said Farhad Azimi, governor of Balkh province.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) meanwhile said the Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in the past 24 hours and at least 181 Taliban members have been killed in clashes.

“We assure people that enemies who posed great threats are defeated,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the MoD.

The Presidential Palace (ARG) also said that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) can defeat the Taliban.

“The ANDSF are able to provide security and defend the country’s sovereignty” said Mohammad Amiri, deputy spokesman for ARG.

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Khalili labels attacks on Hazaras an act of genocide

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2021)

Mohammad Karim Khalili, leader of Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan party, on Sunday warned insurgents against continuing attacks targeting western parts of Kabul and “systematic massacres of Hazaras” and said that the perpetrators of these “tragedies” would force the Hazara people to rise up and defend themselves.

Khalili, who was also second vice president under former president Hamid Karzai, said that if Hazaras are forced to defend themselves, they would be able to defend themselves in other ways.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Khalili said that in recent months, the Hazara people have been killed in “catastrophic” ways, in the name of “ethnic and tribal” targeted killings or by “suicide bombings.”

He said based on the interpretation of jurists and scientific discussions, any type of ethnic-specific killings is a clear example of genocide.

Khalili said the Hazara people have been consistently targeted over the past 20 years.

“When these people stand against this kind of movement and shout the voice of justice, it does not mean confronting other ethnic groups,” Khalili said.

Khalili also pointed out that over the past few years, all the people of Afghanistan have been victims of violence and war and all the people have shared in these sacrifices. However, he added that there is no justification for this and the goal is to annihilate a nation.

Khalili explained that during this period, the Hazara people were however specifically targeted because of their ethnicity, on roads, at mosques, schools, training centers, wedding halls and sports clubs, “and were covered in dust and blood”.

Khalili asked what the interpretation of this act was – if not genocide?

“We have two types of casualties, one on the battlefield, in which we have casualties from all the tribes, and the people take their martyrs and bury them in honor, and we stand by the rest of the people; but once again in another way – they kill and want to de-identify the people, and according to their lawyers, de-identification is a type of genocide,” Khalili added.

He pointed out that other Hazara people had raised their voices just because of the recent incident and called on all the people of the country to unite with this nation.

“The boredom of the people of Hazara is over and it is not against any people or side, but against criminal gangs.

We wish all the tribes to comply with the sufferings of the Hazara people and we ask the people to help the people in this indictment,” Khalili said.

“We demand the Pashtun brothers, Uzbeks, Tajiks and other ethnic group’s lawyers support the Hazara people in this matter,” he said.

“Criminals are trying to strip this nation (Hazara) of their identity by any means.”

Khalili also called on the Independent Human Rights Commission and international organizations to examine recent incidents and attacks that happened in the Hazara and Shiite communities.

On the other hand, the leader of Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Afghanistan criticized the government for failing to provide security to Hazaras. He said that the leaders of the government have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the people in accordance with the constitution.

Khalili added that the government cannot distance itself by accusing criminals.

“According to the constitution, the leadership of the government is responsible for ensuring the security of the people, the government cannot shower itself lightly here, and the government must clarify who is the perpetrator and who is behind these incidents,” Khalili said.

Khalili also said that the president must help the people.

On the other hand, the Khalili stated that if the goal of massacring Hazara people was to destroy this group – it would not be possible.

“If the aim of this action is to eliminate the Hazara people, it is not possible at all.The restlessness of a Hazara people does not mean fear,” Khalili said.

His comments come after at least six bombings took place in western Kabul in the past two weeks, which is home to mostly Hazaras. The blasts mainly targeted passenger cars and killed at least 28 people and injured nearly 30 others.

Talking about peace in Afghanistan Khalili called for an “agreed peace” settlement.

“We will achieve lasting peace when all the people, parties and stakeholders are partners and you find yourself in the peace process. Imported peace is not effective at all,” Khalili said.

Khalili also called on all parties including the Taliban to grab the opportunity for peace and urged parties to “not let this opportunity be wasted.”

“I also say to the Taliban that we want such a peace that all parties see themselves in.”

“The roots of the conflict are resolved when compromise is reached, not through political compromise, and the peace process will succeed when it becomes a process of reconciliation,” he said.

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