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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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German Defense Minister not ruling out more troops to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said if the security situation worsens drastically in Afghanistan, Germany would not rule out sending in more troops if necessary.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, she said should the situation deteriorate “we would have to talk about a completely new mandate.”

She told DW however that the current mandate ceiling of 1,300 soldiers should be sufficient for the next few months.

The German defense minister arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning for an unannounced visit to Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where the majority of German troops are stationed.

Her visit comes after the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the country until January 31, 2022, Deutsche Welle reported.

During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Afghanistan “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”

She said German soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she said.

“We stand ready to continue to support the peace process. The protection of our soldiers has a very high priority in view of the security situation, and all necessary measures are taken together with our partners,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Berlin’s goal remained an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that no final decision had been made on the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan – despite the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing “many dilemmas” over its continued engagement in the country.

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

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Unemployment spikes in Kandahar as conflict intensifies

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

Kandahar officials said on Saturday that the local unemployment rate is estimated to be at 80 percent due to the ongoing conflict that has raged for the past four months between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces in the province.

“Job opportunities decreased during war without any doubt. If we say that 80 percent of youths are jobless it is correct,” said Habibullah Jailani, head of Kandahar labor and social affairs department.

According to Jailani, they have been forced to appeal to international organizations for help for destitute people.

“We want to distribute humanitarian assistance to them including foodstuff… and to keep them warm,” added Jailani.

Officials, meanwhile, stated that more than 20,000 families have been displaced in the province due to the war.

Residents said that they are suffering enormously, not only because of no work but also because they are being forced to seek shelter in the city.

“War has increased in recent days; we have come here (to Kandahar city) from Dand district,” said Raza Khan, a displaced resident.

“We have come here due to the war, the war has intensified, work opportunities are also less,” said Mohammad Daud, another displaced person.

Kandahar officials have not however provided updated information about the current security situation in the southern province.

Kandahar was where the Taliban originated and where its power base was located until the fall of the city in 2001, which signaled the end of organized Taliban control of Afghanistan.

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Pregnant Afghan refugee charged with arson after setting herself on fire

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

A pregnant Afghan woman who set herself on fire in a refugee camp on Lesbos island in Greece has been charged with arson and destruction of public property.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the 26-year-old, who has not been named, suffered burns to her hands, feet and head after the incident last Sunday.

The mother-of-three, who is expecting her fourth child next week, provided testimony to a prosecutor from her hospital bed.

According to the Daily Mail, the woman moved her two daughters and son, who are now being cared for by their father, outside the tent before setting it alight in the temporary refugee camp.

The woman reportedly set fire to herself after finding out she could not travel to Germany with others who had been given asylum due to being in the final phase of her pregnancy.

The Daily Mail quoted investigating magistrate Nikos Triantafyllos as having said: “When she was told she couldn’t travel, her distress and disappointment were such she attempted suicide.”

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