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Found 33 results

  1. NEW YORK: Pakistan on Tuesday called for unconditional dialogue between Afghan Taliban and Afghanistan government in the United Nation?s General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan. Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan?s Ambassador to the UN, while participating in the annual debate in the General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan said that neither side in the conflict can impose a military solution on each other and called for a negotiated end to the war. ?Neither the Coalition and Kabul, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other?, Dr Lodhi told the 193 member UN body.. Arguing against the continuing resort to military force in Afghanistan, she said that ?sixteen years of war, waged by the world?s most powerful forces, have not secured a military solution.? ?The promotion of a political settlement and the pursuit of a military solution in Afghanistan are mutually incompatible?, Ambassador Lodhi said and added that another resort to the military option without an accompanying political strategy will not produce a result different from the past?. It will instead lead to more violence and suffering for the Afghan people and further instability in the region, she asserted. The international community, she said, is unanimous in its view that sustainable peace in Afghanistan is achievable only through a negotiated settlement. ?The resolution that the GA adopted today reaffirms this international consensus?, she emphasised. The Pakistani envoy said her country has consistently proposed a political settlement as the most viable course to end the decades of conflict and suffering in Afghanistan. In her address to the UNGA Ambassador Lodhi also called on the Afghan Taliban to abandon violence and come to the negotiating table to engage in a serious dialogue for peace. While welcoming the Afghan peace and reconciliation plan, Ambassador Lodhi expressed the hope that it will serve as a first step towards working for a political settlement. Ambassador Lodhi also highlighted the fallout on Pakistan of the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan, including terrorism, which Pakistan has been obliged to address. She said, ?We have deployed 200,000 troops on our western border; we have conducted the largest anti-terrorism campaign anywhere in the world; these military campaigns have succeeded in clearing our tribal areas of almost all militant and terrorist groups?. She also told the world body of the heavy price paid by Pakistan. ?Over 27,000 Pakistanis, including 6,500 military and law enforcement personnel have been martyred as a result of terrorism. Pakistan?s economic losses are estimated at over $120 billion?, she added. In her statement Ambassador Lodhi also recounted comprehensive and tangible steps taken by Pakistan over the years to support Afghanistan's economy and development. ?Pakistan facilitates the transit of Afghan goods without any quantitative restrictions. We have recently taken a series of additional measures, to facilitate transit trade she said. She said Pakistan envisaged a future of even closer economic cooperation with Afghanistan. Pakistan has actively promoted the TAPI gas pipeline and the CASA 1000 project, which would address the energy needs of the region and generate significant economic activity in Afghanistan. She emphasised closer cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a vital component of the endeavor to realize peace and security within Afghanistan and the entire region. In that regard she said that Pakistan has shared comprehensive proposals with Afghanistan to monitor and control the border and for effective border management. This includes the establishment of a ?Ground Coordination Centre? and deployment of Liaison Officers on the international border. ?We believe such measures can play a vital role in stopping the cross border movement of terrorists. We hope that the Afghan Government will respond positively to our proposals to strengthen border controls?, she added. She concluded her address by saying that the path to peace in Afghanistan was ?arduous but achievable?. However, she added, ?it was up to the Afghan parties themselves to acknowledge that there was no alternative path to peace than an unconditional dialogue?, and thus make the tough but necessary compromises to arrive at a negotiated peace.
  2. Afghan secuirty forces are seen at the site of an explosion near a gathering of supporters of regional leader Atta Mohammad Noor. -AFP1 KABUL: A suicide attacker blew himself up outside a wedding hall in Kabul killing at least 18 people, reported TOLO News Thursday, in an apparent attempt to strike a political gathering underway inside. As a result of the attack, 10 other people were wounded. Eyewitnesses said at least three cars were also destroyed in the incident and surrounding buildings sustained some damage. The Taliban was quick to deny responsibility for the attack, the latest to hit the war-weary Afghan capital where insurgents have been stepping up assaults in a show of deadly force. Supporters of Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful governor of the northern province of Balkh and a vocal critic of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, had been holding an event inside the hall at the time of the blast. Noor was not at the event, one of his aides told AFP. The bomber tried to enter the building but was stopped at the security checkpoint where he detonated his device, Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP. "A number of our police personnel are among the casualties," Mujahid added. Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said seven policemen and two civilians had been killed. "The bomber detonated himself after he was identified by the police at the entrance gate," Danish said. Another nine were wounded including seven police and two civilians, he added. 'Chaos and panic' "After lunch, as we were exiting the hall a huge explosion shook the hall, shattering glass and causing chaos and panic," Harun Mutaref, who was at the gathering, told AFP. "I saw many bodies including police and civilians lying in blood." An AFP photographer said the windows of the wedding hall had been shattered by the force of the blast and a vehicle parked outside was on fire. Dozens of police and intelligence officers have swarmed the area and blocked access to the public. Photos posted on Twitter showed multiple bodies of men lying on top of each other in a muddy street and in a drain, and people dragging away the wounded. Noor, a senior leader of the Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e Islami party, has been an outspoken critic of Ghani and the National Unity Government. Political infighting has been intensifying ahead of next year's long-delayed district and parliamentary elections, which would pave the way for the 2019 presidential ballot. Noor has previously hinted that he may run for the country's highest office. On Wednesday Ghani - who is a Pashtun, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan-- sacked the Independent Election Commission chief Najibullah Ahmadzai after technical and political bungling, fuelling speculation the vote will not go ahead. That came after the recent firing of Education Minister Asadullah Hanafi Balkhi, who was considered a close ally of Noor, and one of Ghani´s advisers Ahmadullah Alizai. Noor has recently called for the return of Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, a powerful ethnic Uzbek warlord who fled to Turkey in May after he was accused of raping and torturing a political rival in 2016. Earlier this year Noor met with Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, a senior figure in the mainly Hazara ethnic community, and Dostum in Turkey to form the "Coalition for the Salvation of Afghanistan".
  3. There was no immediate indication of casualties or the identity of the attackers-Representational image KABUL: A private television station in the Afghan capital of Kabul was attacked on Tuesday by gunmen who entered the building after an explosion, a staff member who witnessed the attack said. There was no immediate indication of casualties or the identity of the attackers.
  4. A curious case of two largely similar but slightly altered photos has led America's own newspaper of record into questioning US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson's secret visit to Kabul. Hours before arriving in Islamabad, Trump's top foreign policy aide stopped for a brief two-hour visit in Afghanistan, with both the US Embassy and President Ashraf Ghani's office making statements about a productive meeting in Kabul. The visit didn't exactly take place in Kabul though, but at a US military base more than an hour's drive outside the Afghan capital. The Afghan government, however, didn't feel comfortable disclosing the venue. Both the US Embassy and Ghani's office shared photos of Tillerson meeting the Afghan president. But conspicuously missing from the picture released by the Kabul was a large digital clock showing 'Zulu time' ? the US military term for Coordinated Universal Time ? and a red fire alarm, apparently removed by the Afghans so as not ot give away that the location was a heavily fortified US military facility. The New York Times was the first to pick up on the missing details, questioning as to why Ghani's government would go to such an extent to remove something as insignificant as a clock and an alarm. "There is no question that the photo has been manipulated," Hany Farid, a photo forensics expert from Dartmouth College told NYT, saying the manipulation was most likely a bad and easily detectable Photoshop job. Did the Afghans try to hide the location due to security concerns? Or was it an attempt to deceive the Afghan population into thinking it was an Afghan venue so as to show the meeting in a positive light? Only Kabul knows.
  5. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan Monday to discuss Washington´s new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Photo: AFP file KABUL: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan Monday to discuss Washington´s new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani, the US embassy said. Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners "to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal", said a statement posted on Twitter.
  6. KABUL: A suicide bomber killed 15 Afghan army trainees as they were leaving their base in Kabul on Saturday, the defence ministry said, in the latest deadly attack in the capital. "This afternoon when a minibus carrying army cadets was coming out of the military academy, a suicide bomber on foot targeted them, martyring 15 and wounding four," defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP. It was the second suicide attack in the Afghan capital in 24 hours and the seventh major assault in Afghanistan since Tuesday, taking the total death toll to more than 200, with hundreds more wounded. The spate of deadly attacks underscores deteriorating security across the war-torn country. It was also the fifth time since Tuesday that militants have launched a major attack against Afghanistan´s beleaguered security forces already badly demoralised by high casualties and desertions.
  7. [embed_video1 url= style=center] KABUL: As many as two rockets landed near the international military headquarters in downtown Kabul early on Saturday morning, Afghan security officials said. There were no reports of casualties. At around 6 am (01:30 am GMT) alarms could be heard sounding at the headquarters of the NATO-led military mission, as well as at several foreign embassies in the area. The alarms were followed by several loud explosions. Suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 72 people including children, officials and witnesses said. Separately, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a mosque in the impoverished and remote central province of Ghor, killing at least 33 people. The attacks cap one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 120 people killed and hundreds more wounded in four separate Taliban attacks on police and military bases. Suicide bombers attack two Afghan mosques, at least 72 dead The attacks cap one of the bloodiest weeks with more than 120 people killed in four separate Taliban assaults In three of the attacks Taliban militants used bomb-laden Humvees stolen from Afghan government forces to blast their way into targets, as militants step up direct attacks on security installations. The last attack on a mosque in Kabul happened on September 29 as Muslims prepared to commemorate Ashura. Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near Hussainia mosque as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers. An attack on another mosque in the city on August 25 killed 28 people and wounded around 50 others. Four attackers who set off explosions and fired gunshots laid siege to the mosque in the north of the capital for four hours as dozens of men, women and children had gathered for Friday prayers.
  8. KABUL: At least ten people were killed with as many injured according to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health after a suicide bomber targeted a mosque in Kabul on Friday evening. Afghanistan's TOLO news initially reported the explosion inside the Imam Zaman mosque in Dasht-e-Barchi; quoting Basir Mujahid a police spokesman the news outlet confirmed the attack.
  9. Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Defence Day event on Sept 6 at GHQ, Rawalpindi this year. Photo: File RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa left for Kabul on Sunday, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army's media wing. Gen Bajwa will hold a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior civilian and military officials during the day-long visit, the army said further. The two countries often trade accusations of fomenting militancy and terrorism within each other's borders, as well as cross-border attacks. Pakistan blames Afghanistan for hosting several terrorist groups that use its soil against Pakistan, and vice versa. Last week, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan cannot take responsibility for peace and security in Afghanistan, adding that effective border management with Afghanistan is imperative to stop infiltration of terrorists. Pakistan cannot take responsibility for peace, security in Afghanistan: Asif The minister blamed India for carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan through Afghanistan Speaking at the Asia Society seminar in New York on Wednesday, the minister said the US cannot succeed in Afghanistan by waging war. Asif said that no one desires peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan, but that a number of Afghan leaders want to continue status quo for their vested interests. The minister blamed India for carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan through Afghanistan, saying that more than 66 terrorist organisations are active inside India. Pakistan, US, Afghanistan express commitment to eliminate Daesh According to the ISPR, Pakistan and Afghanistan also held bilateral military cooperation meetings Around two weeks ago, at a tripartite forum, officials of the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan expressed their commitment to eliminate Daesh from the region. At the meeting held in Kabul, they agreed on information sharing, complementary efforts and enhanced cooperation, according to the ISPR. Moreover, on the sidelines of the tripartite meeting, the Pak-Afghan military delegations held a bilateral meeting and discussed cross-border attacks, counter-terrorism, coordinated actions on the respective sides along the border and exchange of detainees.
  10. Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack near a large mosque. -AFP KABUL: A suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near a mosque in Kabul on Friday killing at least one person, police said, as Muslims prepare to celebrate one of the holiest events in the Islamic calendar. The attack in the north of the Afghan capital happened as worshippers were gathered inside Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shia mosques in the city, for Friday prayers. "A suicide bomber who was grazing sheep has detonated himself outside the mosque," General Salim Almas, criminal investigative director of Kabul city, told AFP. One person was killed and five wounded, Kabul deputy police chief Sadeq Muradi told AFP, but the health ministry put the death toll at two and 10 wounded. Afghan policeman inspect the site of a suicide attack. -AFP Kabul's Emergency hospital tweeted that it had received 19 wounded including four children. A photo posted on Twitter purportedly taken at the scene of the attack shows a man lying on the ground, covered in blood. A severed leg belonging to someone else is beside him. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban and Daesh militants have repeatedly targeted the minority Shia community in recent years. A shopkeeper told AFP that the suicide bomber blew himself to bits after he was identified by suspicious civilian guards who had set up a checkpoint about 200 metres from the mosque. Afghanistan has trained and armed more than 400 civilians to help protect Shia mosques during the holy month of Muharram. The attacker had apparently wanted to reach the mosque while worshippers were still inside the prayer hall. Salim Shaheen, who had been inside the mosque at the time of the blast told AFP there were multiple casualties. "We were busy offering our Friday prayers when a big bang happened and we stopped prayers and rushed out," Shaheen told AFP. Shaheen said "several people were killed and wounded". He and other bystanders took 15 people including six children to a hospital. There had been fears insurgents would strike again as preparations are made to commemorate Ashura, which falls this weekend. In recent years, the sacred day has been marred by deadly violence.
  11. source: AFP KABUL: Haji Rabbani was preparing for afternoon prayers when he saw the US helicopters hovering above his mud-brick house in a residential area of Kabul. Moments later bombs started raining down. Six members of his family, including four children, were wounded in Wednesday's airstrike that was supposed to hit insurgents fighting Afghan security forces several kilometres from where US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was meeting with officials. Two bombs struck Rabbani's home - several hundred metres from where the insurgents were holed up - destroying an upstairs room, shattering windows and sending debris toppling into the courtyard. NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan expressed regret for the "harm to non-combatants" caused by the US airstrike - the first carried out inside the city in recent memory - and blamed a defective missile. An investigation is underway. The strike was launched in support of Afghan security forces who had confronted militants armed with mortars and suicide vests after they fired a volley of rockets near the capital's international airport - hours after Mattis arrived in the country for a high-profile visit. One person was killed and 11 wounded - including the six people at Rabbani´s house - in the fighting that lasted several hours as Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg met with Afghan leaders to discuss the broader conflict. Both the Taliban and the Daesh?s local Khorasan province affiliate claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. Casualties of war After the airstrike, Rabbani ran inside his home to get his family out. A child in the upstairs room that took the full force of the explosion was on the floor, mud bricks covering most of her small body. "I just got out of the bathroom and came out to perform the ablution when the strike took place," Rabbani told AFP on Thursday as he sat on a carpet in his debris-covered courtyard, smoking and drinking green tea with relatives. "I rushed towards the house and shouted for my children." Two children and two adults remain in hospital. Shrapnel from the bombs had peppered the rooms and blood spatters could be seen on door frames, walls and in the courtyard. Rabbani said he did not understand why foreign forces had targeted his family when he had no links to the insurgents firing rockets near the airport. "I do not belong to the government nor am I affiliated with anyone. I am a poor person who works in the city," said the 49-year-old taxi driver. Large fragments of the bombs lay on the ground nearby, one piece showing a partial label that read "50.9 KG". "There are no Daesh or Taliban in this area and the fighting is almost three kilometres from here - and they bombed my house." It is not the first time a US bombing attack has hit the wrong target. An American airstrike in 2015 destroyed a Doctors Without Borders trauma centre in northern Kunduz province, killing over 40. In July a US airstrike killed 16 policemen in Helmand province. It came after a US strike in Helmand´s Sangin district killed at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children, in February. Rabbani and his family have joined a growing list of civilians who have become casualties of Afghanistan´s grinding 16-year war. The number of civilians killed and wounded was at a record high in the first six months of 2017, a UN report shows, made worse by the Afghan Air Force carrying out its own airstrikes along with US Forces. "Airstrikes carried out by international and Afghan air forces caused 590 civilian casualties (in 2016), nearly double that recorded in 2015," a separate UN report shows, with women and children accounting for more than half of the victims. While NATO has acknowledged its mistake, Rabbani´s family wants compensation not sympathy -- and for the strikes on ordinary Afghans to stop. "They do not target the enemies in front of their eyes -- they target our house and kill our people," said Rabbani.
  12. KABUL: Several rockets exploded in and around Kabul airport on Wednesday hours after US Defence Secretary James Mattis and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in the Afghan capital on an unannounced visit, police said. There were no reports of casualties or damage and Mattis was not near the airport when the rockets exploded. Reports in the Afghan media stated that around 20-30 rockets were fired at Hamid Karzai International Airport. The airport was evacuated following the attack and all flights stood suspended, said officials. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.
  13. Afghan security personnel (L) keeps watch next to a damaged car belonging to foreigners, after a bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan August 22, 2015 Photo: Reuters . KABUL: Five civilians were wounded when a car bomber attacked a Danish convoy belonging to the NATO-led international mission in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday, security officials said. Captain William Salvin, a spokesman for NATO?s Resolute Support Mission, confirmed an attack had occurred and said a team was on the scene to recover the vehicle. ?There are no Resolute Support casualties as a result of the explosion,? Salvin said in an emailed statement. Afghan security officials said a car bomb had been used in the attack on the convoy.
  14. The attacker detonated the bomb after he was stopped at a security checkpoint by suspicious police as he walked towards the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground where a match was under way. Photo: AFP KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up near a cricket stadium in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, killing three people including a policeman and wounding five others, police said. The attacker detonated the bomb after he was stopped at a security checkpoint by suspicious police as he walked towards the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground where a match was under way. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of deadly assaults in the city. "The security forces by sacrificing themselves have prevented the attacker from reaching the crowd (inside the stadium) and creating a catastrophe," police spokesman Basir Mujahid told AFP. Two of the wounded were police officers. Several ambulances were seen speeding away from the scene, apparently taking the injured to hospital, an AFP reporter said. Scores of police blocked the road leading to the stadium where the sixth match of the Shpageeza Cricket League season between the Boost Defenders and Mis Ainak Knights was under way. The competition started Monday. Hundreds of spectators could be heard from outside the stadium as firefighters washed down the area where the bomber had blown himself to bits. Afghanistan Cricket Board spokesman Farid Hotak told AFP the match was briefly interrupted and "all players and cricket board officials are safe". The last major attack in Kabul happened on August 29 when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a bank days before the Eid festival, killing five people and injuring several others. Wednesday´s assault came hours after eight Afghans expelled from Germany arrived in Kabul after Berlin resumed deportations of Afghan asylum-seekers. It had suspended the process when a huge truck bomb tore through the city´s highly fortified diplomatic quarter on May 31, killing around 150 people and wounding hundreds more. The latest group represented the sixth wave of repatriations of Afghans from Germany since December under a disputed Afghan-European Union deal aimed at curbing the influx of migrants. Berlin has argued that it can safely repatriate people to Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, even as Taliban and Islamic State militants terrorise much of the country. "They told me that there is no problem in your country and you can live there so you can´t stay here (Germany) anymore," Mohammad Jamshidi, one of the deportees, told AFP.
  15. Nancy Hatch Dupree in her office in ACKU on November 26, 2016. Photo: Reuters KABUL: Nancy Hatch Dupree, a historian from the United States who helped set up the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University, has died in the country whose culture she worked for more than five decades to preserve, the university said on Sunday. She was 89. Dupree arrived in Kabul in 1962 as a diplomat?s wife but soon divorced and married Louis Dupree, an archaeologist celebrated for his adventurous exploits and groundbreaking discoveries of Paleolithic Afghan tools and artifacts. For the next 15 years, they traveled across Afghanistan by Land Rover as Louis Dupree excavated prehistoric sites and Nancy wrote a series of witty and insightful guidebooks to a country since torn apart by decades of warfare. ?She called herself an old monument and a lot of Afghans called her the ?Grandmother of Afghanistan,'? said Wahid Wafa, executive director of the Afghanistan Centre. ?She understood and knew Afghanistan much better than anybody else.? A photograph of late Nancy Hatch Dupree, an American historian, and a bouquet of flowers are seen in her office after she passed away, in Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU), in Kabul, Afghanistan September 10, 2017. Photo: Reuters A fixture in the social scene of Kabul during the 1970s, a now-vanished world of smart cocktail parties and mini-dresses, they were forced to leave in 1978 after the Soviet-backed government accused Louis Dupree of being a spy. Her husband died in 1989 and much of the time before her return to Afghanistan in 2005 was spent in Pakistan, where as well as briefly meeting Osama Bin Laden and working with the growing number of war refugees, she assiduously gathered as much documentation on Afghanistan as she could. In 2005, after the fall of the Taliban and the installation of a new Western-backed government in Kabul, she returned with some 35,000 documents wrapped up in fertiliser bags, which became the basis for the Afghanistan Centre archive. A prolific writer, she was director of the centre between 2006 and 2011 and continued to go into her office after she stepped down, remaining an institution in the cultural life of Kabul and receiving a stream of visitors. ?It was Nancy?s aim to preserve Afghanistan?s heritage,? said Wafa. ?She was a very funny, interesting person who loved to talk to anyone coming to visit. She was kind, she was very giving with the information she had and she was always lobbying for the Afghanistan she first knew.? While she could be waspishly critical of both blundering Westerners and Afghans she felt were promoting a bigoted version of their culture, she retained her faith in her adopted country to the end, Wafa said. ?Despite the 40 years of war in Afghanistan she was always hopeful of the future and hopeful for the future of the new generation in Afghanistan.?
  16. KABUL: An unknown number of gunmen attacked a mosque in Qala-e-Najarha area in Kabul?s PD11 area around 1pm on Friday afternoon, Tolo News reported quoting eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses and residents of the area said an explosion has occurred inside the yard of Imam Zaman Mosque and gunfire is continuing in the area. Police have cordoned off the area following the attack. Many worshippers were inside the mosque when the explosion took place, reports said. This is a breaking story and will be updated accordingly
  17. KABUL: Two Afghan women working for a security firm searching people entering Bagram air base near the Afghan capital Kabul were killed on Wednesday and two others wounded by unknown gunmen, officials said. The four were shot outside the base by two masked gunmen on a motorbike, said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor of Parwan. "Two of them were killed and two wounded," she said. "The attackers managed to escape the area." There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was checking the report. In June, six Afghan guards working at Bagram for a private security contractor were killed while on their way to work in an attack claimed by the Taliban. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military which runs Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan. The number of Afghan personnel working at Bagram was cut sharply last year after a mechanic detonated a suicide vest, killing four Americans and wounding 17 other people.
  18. Acting interior ministry spokesman said at least 12 people had been killed but the casualty toll could rise further. Photo: Twitter/HafizullahOmarl KABUL: A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 10, and the death toll could rise, an Interior Ministry spokesman in the Afghan capital said. Police cordoned off the area, located near the house of the deputy government Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq but they said the target of the attack was so far unclear. Acting Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said at least 12 people had been killed and 10 wounded but the casualty toll could rise further. The latest suicide bombing adds to the unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, where at least 1,662 civilians were killed in the first half of the year. It came two weeks after the Daesh group claimed an attack on a mosque in the capital that killed at least four people. Kabul has accounted for at least 20 percent of all civilian casualties this year, including at least 150 people killed in a massive truck bomb attack at the end of May, according to United Nations figures. It also coincides with the US administration weighing up its strategic options for Afghanistan, including the possibility of sending more troops to bolster the training and advisory mission already helping Afghan forces.
  19. Kabul: A suicide bomber struck a crowded mosque in Kabul late Thursday, officials said, in the latest militant attack in the month of Ramazan in the Afghan capital. The bomber blew himself up in the kitchen of the mosque after police prevented him from entering the main building packed with worshippers, the interior ministry said with witnesses also reporting gunfire in the area. "Terrorist attack on Al Zahra mosque in west of Kabul. Special forces have been sent to the area," ministry spokesman Najib Danish said, without revealing if there were any casualties. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the assault. Kabul has been on edge since a massive truck bomb on May 31 killed more than 150 people and wounded hundreds in the city's fortified diplomatic quarter, the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001. Just days later protesters incensed by the bombing clashed with police, prompting authorities to respond with live rounds, which left at least four people dead. Separately, suicide bombers tore through a row of mourners at the funeral for one of the protesters, killing at least seven more people. The carnage during the holy fasting month of Ramazan has left the Afghan capital shaken, with protesters who have set up a sit-in camp close to the bombing site demanding the resignation of Ghani's government.
  20. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) visits a camp for internally displaced people outside Kabul, Afghanistan June 14, 2017 - Reuters KABUL: There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan that is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, during an unannounced visit to the war-torn country. Guterres' first visit as secretary general comes as the Afghan government faces internal turmoil, insurgents make gains nationwide and the international military coalition mulls plans to send thousands more troops to help struggling Afghan forces. These combined threats have worsened the crisis for refugees and internally displaced people, forcing international bodies like the United Nations to call for emergency funding. The crisis can only be solved by ending the war, said Guterres, standing in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Kabul that accommodates Afghans displaced by fighting. "Peace is the solution for the problem," said Guterres, previously a United Nations' high commissioner for refugees. At least 126,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes, the United Nations says. More than 218,000 Afghan refugees have also returned this year from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, many citing pressure from authorities there. The International Organization for Migration estimates that at least 600,000 refugees could return this year, piling strain on aid groups struggling to help the newly displaced. Khumri, a 30-year-old Afghan woman who met Guterres, said she had lived in the squalid camp for the last two years with her family after their home was destroyed and her husband killed by government forces battling Taliban occupying their village in the northeastern province of Kapisa. "We need everything," she said, recounting the struggle for clean water, food, and hygiene materials that drives some to beg. Guterres was set to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is trying to soothe domestic political tension after recent violence in the capital, Kabul. Ghani also hosted international delegations last week in a bid to set the stage for peace negotiations with the Taliban, which have remained stalled amid widespread fighting. If the Taliban do not begin negotiations soon, Ghani will seek new UN sanctions against the group as a sponsor of terrorism, he told the June 6 meeting. Any sanctions would be up to the UN Security Council, Guterres said. Afghanistan has endured too many "foreign interventions", however, he added, urging an eventual deal to resolve the war. Thousands of international troops remain in Afghanistan to train and assist Afghan forces, besides mounting counterterrorism operations. US President Donald Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, opening the door for future troop increases.
  21. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows birds at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul.Photo: AFP KABUL: A rare Afghan marsh that was once a royal hunting ground is set to come under the official protection of the UN environment agency, with the aim of saving hundreds of migratory bird species. On the long, arid journey to the Caucasus and Siberia, across the Hindu Kush massif, the Kol-e-Hashmat Khan wetlands outside Kabul provide sanctuary for the thousands of storks, egrets, pelicans and flamingos that head north every spring from southern India. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows birds flying at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS But after 40 years of conflict and neglect, their habitat is being threatened by the growth in new homes, irrigation systems, rubbish and global warming which is gradually changing the local environment. Now the UN has designated the wetlands a conservation site, the Afghan government said on Sunday, as it also looks to help preserve the water supply of the capital. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows birdwatchers on a small craft at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS "There are probably more than 300 or 400 species that pass through, though without an accurate count it is hard to be sure," says Andrew Scanlon, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Afghanistan. They are migratory birds and "tourists" who stay for a very short period of time to find food, he adds. At daybreak, the marsh comes alive with the morning chatter of the birds hungry for breakfast. Binoculars in hand, Scanlon stands atop a tower that dominates the landscape. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows a view over the wetlands from a birdwatching tower at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS In the distance is the silhouette of Bala Hissar, an ancient fortress that defended the city for centuries. Opposite, mud houses and sturdier dwellings made from bricks seem to spring up at random, hurrily erected during wars for tides of refugees and displaced people. It was once a favoured place for royals to go hunting, though Scanlon stresses any activity would have been carried out "in a sustainable way". But with the invasion of the Soviet army in 1979 and the succession of conflicts afterwards, including the civil war in the early 1990s, Afghans were preoccupied by their own survival and the environment suffered. War saw the marshes more or less abandoned until 2005, Scanlon explains. ´Everybody is guilty´ Scanlon says that land grabbing was common in the chaos of the 90s as Afghans fought for survival. The marshes became a sanctuary, providing safe haven and water. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows the lake from the birdwatching tower at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS As Afghanistan´s population swelled with the return of refugees after the Taliban were toppled in 2001, he says the situation became a "tragedy of the commons". The phrase refers to an economic theory in which individuals act in their own self-interest towards a shared resource but against the common good. "Everyone is taking a piece to survive but all together this is a tragedy, it´s no one´s fault but everybody is guilty," he says. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows a birdwatcher looking on at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS Taking advantage of the chaos, factional and party leaders built houses on the water´s edge. According to the UN, about 50 hectares of wild land were taken over, which the Afghan environmental protection agency, created in 2005, is now trying to recover. "Some politicians are reluctant" to act, but attitudes are changing, said Muhibullah Fazli, the agency´s biodiversity expert. The most important thing, he says, is to educate local residents. "The problem is the people taking their cattle to graze or cutting the reed, local people also pour their garbage in the river, they don´t know the scientific value of this area," he said. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows birdwatchers paddling on a small craft at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul.Photo: REUTERS Together with Qargha reservoir, Kol-e-Hashmat Khan, a marsh some eight metres deep at its centre, is one of Kabul´s two water sources. But experts are already worried about its falling water levels. NGO Afghanistan Youths Greens was ordered by UNEP to organise waste collection and educate the villagers who will continue to live on the shores. This photograph taken on May 29, 2017 shows a view over the lake from a birdwatching tower at the Kol-e Hashmat Khan wetland in the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: REUTERS "At the beginning people didn´t accept us but finally we managed to convince them," says the organisation´s director Mohammad Shafaq. "I told them what the Holy Koran has said," adds Fazli. "Birds are a community just like yours... they need a habitat and they need food."
  22. Photo: FILE. ? ISPR RAWALPINDI: Pakistan's top military commanders on Tuesday urged the Afghan government to "look inward and identify the real issues", instead of blaming Islamabad for every terrorism incident. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Tuesday presided over a special Corps Commanders' Conference here at the General Headquarters (GHQ), which reviewed regional security environment in the backdrop of recent terrorist incidents in Afghanistan, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. The forum expressed solidarity with Afghan people and security forces on the loss of precious lives, and vowed to continue its support and cooperation with Afghanistan in fight against terrorism and militancy. The conference took exception to the unwarranted accusations and threats against Pakistan in the aftermath of Kabul blast. "It concluded that instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look inward and identify the real issues," the ISPR stated. While reaffirming continued support to regional peace and stability, the forum reiterated Pak Army's resolve to defend the motherland against all types of threat.
  23. File photo Pakistan will participate in a multinational peace conference ? Kabul Process ? hosted by Afghanistan on Tuesday. The peace conference on Afghanistan will include discussions on the talks with Taliban, as the capital reels from a wave of bombings and clashes that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded in the last week. Much of Kabul remains in lockdown ahead of the conference, with tighter than usual security including more armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets, and tight restrictions on civilian traffic. Representatives of around 25 countries, including Pakistan and India, along with European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and the United Nations, will attend the meeting, which aims to build international support on ways to restore security in the conflict-torn country. "The Kabul Process is meant to reach a consensus with the region and the world for peace in Afghanistan," said Afghan presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
  24. Afghan cricket team/Getty Images KABUL: Afghanistan have cancelled proposed home and away cricket fixtures with Pakistan after a deadly bomb attack which hit the country?s capital on Wednesday. Pakistan were set to play their first Twenty20 match in Kabul later this year in what was seen as an opportunity for the neighbours to ease tensions over border skirmishes and alleged proxy warfare. The Kabul match, set for July or August, would have been followed by a fixture in Pakistan and a full series at an unspecified date. But the Afghanistan Cricket Board issued a strongly worded statement late on Wednesday, cancelling the matches in light of a truck bombing in the city´s diplomatic quarter that killed at least 90 people. Massive Kabul truck bomb kills 90, wounds hundreds Explosion occurred in high-security zone housing foreign missions No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday´s attack, although the Taliban has denied involvement. "The ACB hereby cancel all kinds of cricket matches and initial mutual relationship agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board," the Afghan board said on its Facebook page. Afghanistan´s intelligence agency has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack. The development leaves Pakistan´s cricketers even more isolated in the region. India has refused to play a full series since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, while ties with fellow Test team Bangladesh have also soured after Pakistan pulled out of a planned series in July. Pakistani officials said they were unhappy that Bangladesh were not willing to send their team to Pakistan. Only minnows Zimbabwe have been willing to tour the country since a 2009 militant attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team. Cricketing relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan were not always so frosty. Afghans learned to play cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan after they were forced to leave their homes in the wake of the Soviet invasion in 1979. The sport struggled to get a foothold in Afghanistan under the hardline Taliban, but has become hugely popular since the regime was toppled in a US-led invasion in 2001. While Pakistan has supported the Afghan team by supplying equipment and arranging fixtures with the fledgling side, rival India has also been keen to lend its support. Last year, Afghanistan´s national team shifted its base from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Noida, Delhi, while India´s former batsman Lalchand Rajput replaced Pakistan´s Inzamam-ul-Haq as their national team coach.
  25. Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP KABUL: At least 90 people were killed and hundreds wounded Wednesday when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul's diplomatic quarter, bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital just days into the holy fasting month of Ramazan. The victims appeared mainly to have been Afghan civilians. [embed_video1 url= style=center] Bloodied corpses littered the scene and a huge cloud of smoke rose from the highly-fortified area which houses foreign embassies after the rush-hour attack tore a massive crater in the ground and blew out windows several miles away. No group has so far claimed the powerful blast, which officials said was caused by 1,500 kilogrammes (1.6 US tonnes) of explosives hidden inside a sewage tanker, in what appeared to be a major intelligence failure. Rescue workers were digging bodies from the rubble hours after the explosion, many of them disfigured and charred, as anguished residents searched for missing relatives. Dozens of mangled and upturned cars choked the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls scrambled to safety. The attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where the NATO-backed military, beset by soaring casualties and desertions, is struggling to beat back insurgents. "In this powerful attack 90 people have been killed and 400 wounded, including many women and children," said the government´s media centre, with health officials warning the toll could climb further. President Ashraf Ghani slammed the attack as a "war crime". Afghanistan´s intelligence agency blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack. Kabul blast hurts German embassy staff, kills guard: minister The bomb, one of the deadliest in Kabul and coming at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, exploded close to the fortified entrance to the German embassy, killing a security guard and wounding some staff, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter. ?Such attacks do not change our resolve in continuing to support the Afghan government in the stabilisation of the country," he said. Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for city police, said the explosives were hidden in a sewage tanker. He suggested that the German embassy might not have been the target of the blast, which sent clouds of black smoke into the sky near the presidential palace. "There are several other important compounds and offices near there too," he told Reuters. The blast, which shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of metres away, was unusually strong. Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP The Taliban denied responsibility and said they condemned attacks that have no legitimate target and killed civilians. Daesh, the other main militant group active in Afghanistan, has carried out high-profile attacks in Kabul, including an attack on a military hospital in March that killed more than 50 people. The NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Kabul said Afghan security forces prevented the vehicle carrying the bomb from entering the heavily protected Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies as well as its headquarters, also suggesting it may not have reached its intended target. Germany cancelled a planned flight deporting migrants to Afghanistan after the blast, its ARD broadcaster said, citing the interior minister. Germany began carrying out group deportations of Afghans in December, seeking to show it is tackling the high number of migrants by getting rid of those who do not qualify as refugees. The French, Turkish and Chinese embassies were among those damaged, the three countries said, adding there were no immediate signs of injuries among their diplomats. The BBC said one of its drivers, an Afghan, was killed driving journalists to work. Four journalists were wounded and treated in hospital. Video shot at the scene showed burning debris, crumbled walls and buildings, and destroyed cars, many with dead or injured people inside. "Felt like an earthquake" At the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital a few blocks away, there were scenes of chaos as ambulances brought in wounded and frantic relatives scanned casualty lists and questioned hospital staff for news. "It felt like an earthquake," said 21-year-old Mohammad Hassan, describing the moment the blast struck the bank where he was working. His head wound had been bandaged but blood still soaked his white dress shirt. Another lightly wounded victim, Nabib Ahmad, 27, said there was widespread destruction and confusion. "I couldn't think clearly, there was a mess everywhere," he said. Frenzy erupted out outside the hospital as ambulances and police trucks began bringing in the bodies of those killed. Some bodies were burned or destroyed beyond recognition. Pakistani diplomats, staff injured in attack Pakistan?s Foreign Office condemned the attack and according to a press statement officials from the country?s embassy had been injured. Some Pakistani diplomats and staff sustained minor injuries in the attack and their residences were also damaged, according to press release of Pakistan?s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ?Pakistan being a victim of terrorism understands the pain and agony that such incidents inflict upon the people and society. The people and Government of Pakistan extend their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the Government and the people of Afghanistan and the bereaved families,? the statement said. ?While reiterating condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, we pray for early recovery of the injured. We firmly stand with our Afghan brothers in this hour of grief and anguish,? it added. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also condemned the terror attack and expressed solidarity with the Afghan government and people. In a statement, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa strongly condemned the incident and expressed grief on the loss of precious lives and damage to various embassies' infrastructure, including Pakistan's. We stand with [our] Afghan brothers and its security forces in [the] fight against terrorism and militancy, he stated further. geo_embedgallery Indian, Japanese Embassies damaged Manpreet Vohra, India´s envoy to Afghanistan, told the Times Now television channel the bomb went off around 100 metres from India´s embassy, one of several in the area. "We are all safe, all our staff, all our personnel are safe. However, the blast was very large and nearby buildings including our own building have considerable damage in terms of broken glass and shattered windows and blown doors etc," he said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "We strongly condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured." The explosion also shattered windows at the Japanese Embassy. "Two Japanese embassy staffers were mildly injured, suffering cuts," a foreign ministry official in Tokyo told AFP. France also reported damage to its own embassy and the German one. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has warned of "another tough year" for both foreign troops and local forces in Afghanistan. Afghan troops are backed by US and NATO forces, and the Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more troops to the country to break the deadlock in the fight against the Taliban. US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies. They mainly serve in an advisory capacity -- a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago. The blast was the latest in a long line of attacks in Kabul. The province surrounding the capital had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 due to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.