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Wardak residents demand justice in wake of Bihsud carnage

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2021)

A number of families of victims of last week’s clashes in the Hisa-i-Awal Bihsud district of Maidan Wardak province have called on the government to investigate the incident and ensure the guilty parties are prosecuted and justice is served.

Clashes broke out on Friday last week after a group of people staged a demonstration outside the district government compound.

At least 12 people died and 25 others were wounded after the protest turned violent, sources said.

However, a number of MPs from Wardak province claimed the protestors were targeted by police special forces despite being unarmed.

The Interior Ministry however rejected these claims and said irresponsible gunmen opened fire on police and civilians in the district.

The family of Ali Shujaee, one of the victims who was killed in Friday’s chaos, says that Ali was a poor farmer and the only breadwinner of his 10-member family.

Ali’s wife Fatima stated that she lost her “only breadwinner. They martyred my husband and left my five children – three sons and two daughters – in uncertainty. I want the government to prosecute the perpetrators.”

“My brother was shot dead. He was shot in the head and one of his legs was cut. Where should we raise our voice? We want justice,” Zainab Shujaee, Ali’s sister said.

Ali’s mother Basgul Shujaee stated: “I want the government to stop this bloodshed. We want peace.”

Meanwhile, a delegation dispatched to Bihsud says that a thorough investigation has been started and that the incident will be probed “neutrally”.

“The government is committed to bringing to justice whoever the main culprit is,” said Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the deputy head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance for finance and administration.

 

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Another two B-52 bombers arrive in region to protect US troops

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

Two additional US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Tuesday as the US Forces and NATO ramp up the troops’ withdrawal process.

According to the US Central Command, the bombers join the four B-52 aircraft that arrived at Al Udeid in late April.

These aircraft are in place to “protect the orderly and responsible withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan,” CENTCOM stated.

In addition, CENTCOM stated it is committed to providing the necessary force protection to ensure the drawdown is conducted in a safe manner.

On Saturday, the US military and coalition forces officially started their withdrawal process after almost 20 years in the country.

Within days of the start of the exit process, US officials said 60 planeloads of military equipment had already left the country.

According to reports, US military cargo flights were working around the clock to move hardware out of Afghanistan.

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Afghan security forces able to defend the country on their own: MPs

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

With the withdrawal of foreign forces underway, members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said on Thursday that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are able to defend their country on their own.

MPs said however that reforms need to be brought on a leadership level within the ANDSF.

“After the withdrawal of foreign forces some challenges will exist, but it is related to the leadership of the ANDSF and how they manage the war,” said Khan Agha Rezayee, the head of parliament’s security commission.

“We have a national army, national police, and NDS that can defend the country independently, and they have proven that they can defend the country.”

The Ministry of Defense (MoD), meanwhile, stated that Afghan forces are able to defend the country and people on their own.

“ANDSF are willing to defend the country in every situation; 96% of the operations including night operations and airstrikes are conducted by the Afghan forces. We assure people they need not worry as ANDSF have proven that they can defend the country and people,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for the MoD.

Some Kabul residents said that supporting the ANDSF in this time will empower them to ensure security.

“Our security forces are strong, and we believe that they can ensure security. We are proud of them that they can thwart Taliban plans,” said Yasin Shinwari, a resident of Kabul city.

“We believe in the capabilities of the security forces, but the forces need better equipment to go on the offensive,” said Sayed Ali Sena Sadat, another resident of Kabul city.

This comes as reports emerged this week that the Taliban is advancing on key cities in Baghlan, Helmand and Ghazni provinces.

According to reports a number of soldiers have been killed in clashes with the Taliban in Ghazni and Baghlan provinces and in Helmand – while an unknown number have surrendered to the Taliban.

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Taliban capture key dam in Kandahar province

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam after months of fierce fighting in its former bastion of Kandahar, the group and officials said, as the US forces have begun the withdrawal of its troops from the country after 20 years, AFP reported.

The Dahla Dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for the provincial capital, was now under Taliban control, local officials told AFP news agency on Thursday.

A Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf also confirmed this and said: “We have seized the Dahla Dam in Arghandab.”

Haji Gulbuddin, governor of an adjacent district, confirmed the dam “is now in the control of the Taliban”, AFP reported.

“Our security forces … asked for reinforcements but they failed to get it,” he said.

Kandahar water department chief Tooryalay Mahboobi told AFP the Taliban recently warned Dahla employees not to go to work.

Last month the armed fighters blew up a bridge that connected the dam to adjacent districts, AFP reported.

Dahla was built by the US nearly 70 years ago to provide water for irrigating land in about seven districts of Kandahar.

In 2019, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of nearly $350m to be used partly to expand the reservoir-style project.

The surrounding district has seen intense fighting in the past six months, but officials announced in April that the area had been cleared.

Before retreating, the Taliban planted explosives across the area – including in residential complexes – officials said.

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