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Saleh orders arrest of person who claimed civilians killed in airstrike

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

Vice President Amrullah Saleh has ordered the arrest of the individual who reported civilian casualties from an Afghan government airstrike on October 22, 2020, Human Rights Watch said Thursday. 

The Afghan air forces targeted a Taliban gathering at a mosque in Hazara Qarluq village in Takhar on Wednesday morning in which at least 12 children were killed and 18 civilians were wounded, sources said.

Saleh, however, rejected claims, stating: “No child was killed in Afghan Air Force strike in Takhar.”

VP stated that the Taliban sniper unit “responsible for massacre of our special forces a day earlier was targeted.”

“The person responsible for spread of this venomous and fake news was arrested immediately. Talibs use houses and mosques as shield,” Saleh tweeted.

Saleh also wrote on Facebook that legal action would be taken against those “who make false allegations.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Thursday that the Afghan government ordered an investigation into the incident. However, findings from investigations into other incidents of civilian casualties have not been made public and no one has been held accountable.

“Vice President Amrullah Saleh is trying to silence those who reported a potentially unlawful airstrike that killed civilians, including many children,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director. “The government should immediately release anyone detained under Saleh’s order and carry out a thorough and impartial investigation of the airstrike.”

In response to the Human Rights Watch’s report, Saleh stated that the Afghan government has no intent to restrict the absolute rights of the people.

“We are standing against freedom to kill, freedom to kidnap, freedom to harass, freedom to rape, freedom to steal, freedom to a massacre, freedom to grab public land, freedom to extort & freedom to cage the defender of the freedom.” 

“We aren’t silencing the lawful frees and freedoms,” he tweeted.

In recent weeks, Afghan government forces have sustained many casualties during intense fighting in Takhar province. The uptick in fighting comes amid rising numbers of Taliban attacks and little progress on the Afghan peace talks in Doha.

The laws of war permit attack only against military objectives, which include enemy fighters, weapons, and equipment. Warring parties are prohibited from deliberately attacking civilians, except those directly participating in hostilities. For a specific attack on a military objective to be lawful, it must discriminate between combatants and civilians, and the expected loss of civilian life and property must be proportionate to the anticipated military gain from the attack. Attacks that target civilians, that are indiscriminate, or that cause disproportionate civilian loss are unlawful.

It is not clear if Taliban forces were in the vicinity of the mosque. Mosques and schools are civilian objects not subject to attack unless being used for military purposes. Any Taliban fighters present would be required to take all feasible precautions to remove civilians from the vicinity.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has reported that women and children comprised 65 percent of the civilian casualties from airstrikes by the Afghan air force for the first half of 2020. The Afghan government has a poor record of investigating such incidents.

“The Afghan government is obligated to investigate possible laws-of-war violations by their forces,” Gossman said. “The free expression rights of those reporting on alleged violations should be respected.”

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IEA faces serious challenges that need to be addressed: Mullah Yaqoob

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, acting defense minister, on Wednesday said that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is facing serious challenges which need to be addressed.

Addressing an event at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan 400 bed Military hospital in Kabul, Mullah Yaqoob said Afghans have suffered for 40 years.

“These serious problems have been ongoing for many years. There are problems. There is chaos, everything is not good,” said Mullah Yaqoob.

In his first appearance before the media, he also called on businessmen to invest in the country’s health sector.

“Traders should invest in the health sector, so Afghans don’t have to go to other countries for treatment,” he added.

The acting minster of public health meanwhile, called on the world to continue providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

“In the health sector, deep reforms should be brought,” said Qallandar Abad, acting minster of public health.

Some doctors meanwhile called on the IEA to take the needs of health workers into consideration.

“We urge the minister of public health to not exclude our military doctors from their lists to receive money for salaries and medical equipment,” said Tahir Ahrar, a military commander.

This comes amid serious warnings by health officials that the country’s health sector is on the verge of collapse.

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Iran urges support for Afghanistan to ward off threat of terrorism

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday evening after the meeting on Afghanistan that humanitarian and economic support should be provided to Afghanistan so that insurgent groups do not use the current crisis to recruit soldiers.

Addressing a press conference after the foreign minister’s meeting on Afghanistan in Tehran, Abdollahian said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is a reality and they are running the interim government and should be encouraged to work towards the establishment of an inclusive government.

Abdollahian said delegates attending the meeting insisted that Afghanistan’s central bank assets be released for the sake of the country’s economy.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, meanwhile told delegates he was “deeply concerned” about human rights abuses and attacks in Afghanistan since the IEA took control.

In a pre-recorded video message, the UN Secretary-General said that Afghanistan was facing a growing humanitarian crisis that needed immediate action.

Guterres recalled the UN’s engagement with the IEA to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

Moscow meanwhile has consistently advocated for the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan and has no plans to impose its recommendations on the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a video address.

“Russia is not inclined to impose its advice or recommendations on anyone. Moreover, history itself offers effective ways to solve problems. It’s vital to take the interests of the country’s major ethnic and political forces into account to the fullest extent possible,” he said.

“This is why we have been firmly and consistently supporting the creation of a truly inclusive Afghan government,” he stated.

“The people need to be sure that their rights and legitimate aspirations will be implemented through action, not just words, and will also be protected by law, certainly based on respect for local traditions and customs,” Lavrov explained.

On the other hand, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated that IEA officials want efficient engagement with the international community.

The people of Afghanistan are facing a severe economic situation, and their money should be released by other countries, he added.

In addition, Qureshi stressed that there must be a joint fight against terrorism at the regional level because the activities of terrorist groups are a threat to the region.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that IEA officials are eager to have dialogue with the rest of the world, and the international community should help Afghanistan with its development.

In an address delivered by video link to conference participants, Wang said Beijing was ready to host further talks between Afghanistan and its neighbours on the country’s future.

“The Taliban (IEA) are eager to have dialogue with the world … China will host the third Neighbours of Afghanistan meeting at the appropriate time,” Wang said in comments broadcast live by Iranian state TV.

The meeting of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries was attended in person by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and China and Russia participated by video link.

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IEA eager for dialogue with the world: China’s Wang Yi

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials are eager to have dialogue with the rest of the world, and the international community should help Afghanistan with its development, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

In an address delivered by video link to a conference in Iran on Afghanistan, Wang said Beijing was ready to host further talks between Afghanistan and its neighbours on the country’s future.

“The Taliban (IEA) are eager to have dialogue with the world … China will host the third Neighbours of Afghanistan meeting at the appropriate time,” Wang said in comments broadcast live by Iranian state TV.

The meeting of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries was attended in person by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and China and Russia participated by video link.

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