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Found 20 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.?
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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."
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/7b7f525accf926b3b075908e039b5756.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9NS8zMS8yMDE3IDQ6Mjg6MzIgUE0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT0zdTNUTi9lZDBSZ2RqZmluQjU0blZnPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= 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.
  13. Burned vehicles at the site of the blast in Kabul - Reuters ISLAMABAD: Pakistan?s Foreign Office on Wednesday condemned the attack in Kabul?s diplomatic quarter 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 the 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. 80 killed in massive blast in Kabul diplomatic quarter Explosion occurred in high-security zone housing foreign missions At least 80 people were killed and hundreds wounded when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul´s diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban step up their annual "spring offensive".
  14. Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP KABUL: At least 80 people were killed and hundreds wounded Wednesday when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul´s diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital. Bodies littered the scene and a towering plume of smoke rose from the area, which houses foreign embassies, after the blast blew out the windows in several missions and residences hundreds of metres away. Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and women struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones. It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military beset by soaring casualties and desertions is struggling to beat back the insurgents. Over a third of the country is outside government control. Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP More than an hour after the explosion, ambulances were still taking the wounded to the hospital as firefighters struggled to control blazes in several buildings. Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said at least 49 people had been killed and 320 wounded, with the figures confirmed by a second health official and the government media office. Authorities warned the toll could yet rise. "They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals," senior health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi told AFP. The interior ministry was calling on Kabul residents to donate blood, saying hospitals were in "dire need". There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban step up their annual "spring offensive". The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured NATO convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3. Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said initial findings showed it had been a truck bomb. 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. 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.
  15. Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP KABUL: At least 49 people were killed and hundreds wounded Wednesday when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul´s diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital. Bodies littered the scene and a towering plume of smoke rose from the area, which houses foreign embassies, after the blast blew out the windows in several missions and residences hundreds of metres away. Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and women struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones. It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military beset by soaring casualties and desertions is struggling to beat back the insurgents. Over a third of the country is outside government control. Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017 - AFP More than an hour after the explosion, ambulances were still taking the wounded to the hospital as firefighters struggled to control blazes in several buildings. Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said at least 49 people had been killed and 320 wounded, with the figures confirmed by a second health official and the government media office. Authorities warned the toll could yet rise. "They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals," senior health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi told AFP. The interior ministry was calling on Kabul residents to donate blood, saying hospitals were in "dire need". There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban step up their annual "spring offensive". The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured NATO convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3. Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said initial findings showed it had been a truck bomb. 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.
  16. KABUL: A powerful car bomb exploded in the center of Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 90, officials said. The blast sent clouds of black smoke into the sky above the presidential palace and foreign embassies. Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said several people were killed and wounded in the blast near the fortified entrance to the German embassy. "It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is," Mujahid said. The explosion shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of metres away. A public health spokesman said at least 67 wounded people had been taken to hospitals around Kabul. Witnesses said they saw crowds gathered around ambulances that carried the dead and wounded to hospitals, trying to identify bodies. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said he was gathering information. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/740641279b710ccd286fbd1e52cd4af6.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9NS8zMS8yMDE3IDU6MjE6NDMgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1NZlhHZmhhRHdoeWZJa3JZNFVXZVRBPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] Violence around Afghanistan has been rising throughout the year, as the Taliban push to defeat the U.S.-backed government and reimpose Islamic law after their 2001 ouster in a Washington-backed invasion. Since most international troops withdrew at the end of 2014, the Taliban have gained ground and now control or contest about 40 percent of the country, according to U.S. estimates, though President Ashraf Ghani's government holds all provincial centers. U.S. President Donald Trump is due to decide soon on a recommendation to send 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to bolster the small NATO training force and U.S. counter-terrorism mission now totaling just over 10,000. The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, told a congressional hearing earlier this year that he needed several thousand more troops to help Afghan forces break a "stalemate" with the Taliban.
  17. KABUL: A powerful car bomb exploded in the center of Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday, sending clouds of black smoke spiraling over the center of the city in an area near the presidential palace and foreign embassies, police said Several people were killed and wounded in the blast near the fortified entrance to the German embassy, said Basir Mujahid a spokesman for Kabul police. At least 67 wounded have been taken to Kabul hospitals following a powerful car bomb explosion in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, a spokesman for the ministry of public health said. "It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is," Mujahid said. The explosion shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of meters (yards) away. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said he was gathering information.
  18. File photo: AFP KANDAHAR: Around 25 Afghan policemen were killed early Sunday when Taliban fighters stormed multiple security outposts in the volatile southern province of Zabul, officials said, as the insurgents escalate their annual spring offensive. Local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention as they were unable to get hold of senior authorities for help, highlighting the disarray in security ranks. The coordinated attack is another stinging blow to NATO-backed Afghan forces. It comes just a month after the Taliban killed at least 135 security forces in northern Balkh province, in the deadliest insurgent attack on an Afghan military base. "This morning, a group of Taliban fighters armed with heavy and light weapons launched coordinated attacks on several police checkpoints in Shah Joy district of Zabul province, killing 20 policemen," provincial governor Bismillah Afghanmal told AFP. A district official told AFP that at least 15 others were wounded in the fighting. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on their website. The raid, the latest in a series of brazen Taliban assaults, underscores the insurgents´ growing strength more than 15 years since they were ousted from power by the US invasion of 2001. Taliban militants launched their annual "spring offensive" in late April, heralding a surge in fighting as the US tries to craft a new Afghan strategy and NATO considers sending more troops to break the stalemate against the resurgent militants. The offensive normally marks the start of the fighting season, though this winter the Taliban continued to battle government forces. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month warned of "another tough year" for security forces in Afghanistan. His comments came after Taliban fighters dressed in army uniforms and armed with suicide vests attacked a military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif last month, killing at least 135 policemen and soldiers. The brazen attack prompted fury in Afghanistan, leading to the resignations of defence minister Abdullah Habibi and army chief Qadam Shah Shaheem. The US State Department denounced the "barbaric, unconscionable" attack, but stressed that America has no intention of giving up on the country despite more than 15 years of brutal war. The Pentagon has asked the White House to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to break the deadlocked fight against the Taliban. US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, who also mainly serve in an advisory capacity -- a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago. German and Afghan guard killed in Kabul guest house attack Gunmen attacked an international guest house in Kabul, killing a German woman and an Afghan guard, the interior ministry said on Sunday. A Finnish woman is missing and presumed to have been kidnapped in the raid late Saturday, officials added. The guest house was run by a Swedish NGO Operation Mercy, whose director Scott Breslin told local news agency TT that the organisation is holding a crisis meeting. "A Finnish lady was kidnapped from police district (three) last night at 11.30. A German lady and an Afghan guard were killed," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said on Twitter. A Finnish foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that a Finnish citizen has been kidnapped in Kabul. "We can confirm that we know about this but we are not giving details at the moment. The only thing we can say is it is not known who the kidnappers are," said spokeswoman Karoliina Romanoff. Operation Mercy´s Breslin told TT in a brief statement: "We know that she´s missing, we will send out a press release later." The kidnapping of foreigners has been on the rise in Afghanistan, with criminal gangs staging abductions for ransom or handing the victims over to militant groups. In August last year gunmen wearing military uniforms kidnapped two professors of the American University of Afghanistan in the heart of Kabul. The two, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weekes, appeared in a Taliban hostage video that surfaced in January, the first apparent proof that they were alive.
  19. KABUL: A former warlord branded the "Butcher of Kabul" returned to the Afghan capital Thursday, met by uneasy residents two decades after leaving the city where he stands accused of killing thousands of people. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister, has returned to mainstream political life after his dormant Hezb-i-Islami militant group signed a peace deal with the government last September which sparked revulsion from human rights groups and residents of the capital. His convoy of several hundred vehicles to Kabul on Thursday, mainly pickup trucks equipped with machine guns, was greeted by hundreds of onlookers, including supporters bearing the green party flag and flowers. As it progressed through the capital´s main thoroughfares he was joined by hundreds of cars ferrying people waving flags, singing the national anthem or chanting "Welcome to Kabul, Honourable Hekmatyar" in Pashto. Hekmatyar earned his bloody nickname for laying siege to Kabul while during the 1992-1996 civil war, bombarding it with rockets that inflicted some of the worst damage in nearly 40 years of conflict, destroying one-third of the city and killing tens of thousands of civilians. The peace agreement inked in September marked a symbolic victory for the government, which has struggled to revive peace talks with the more powerful Taliban, but has also fuelled fears of more political division. Some of the city´s residents greeted Hekmatyar´s return with hope, such as 35-year-old Jamshed, who goes by one name and who told AFP the "rare happy news" meant the warlord´s influence could help improve security. For others, memories of death and destruction in the capital came rushing back. "He will be surprised to see Kabul rebuilt again," said one wry onlooker who did not wish to give his name. Others like 20-year-old metal worker Edress Arabzada, could not forget the past but were pragmatic about the future. Hekmatyar was the "chief destroyer" of Kabul, Arabzada told AFP, adding the warlord should apologise for the spilling the blood of innocent people. But, he added, "we welcome his arrival to Afghanistan if it leads to peace and stability". ´We are tired of war´ Cucumber seller Sayed Mohammad, 52, agreed. "All the warlords are corrupt and have blood on their hands," he told AFP. "But, we welcome (Hekmatyar) to Kabul because we are tired of war and conflict." Afghanistan has suffered near-continuous fighting since the Soviet invasion of 1979, and beleaguered security forces are currently struggling to beat back the resurgent Taliban, with more than one third of the country outside government control. Hekmatyar is the latest in a series of controversial figures that Kabul has sought to reintegrate by granting judicial immunity for past crimes, and many residents who spoke to AFP called for him to apologise and be prosecuted. Some were more accepting of the rehabilitation of the warlords, including figures such as Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently the country´s first vice president. "I do not think, Hekmatyar´s arrival to Kabul will not make a difference... We want him to continue a normal life like other warlords in Afghanistan," said drinks seller Mohammad Nasim. Hekmatyar first returned to public life on Saturday at a gathering in Laghman province, two hours east of Kabul. After his return to the capital on Thursday he travelled to the presidential palace to meet and shake hands with President Ashraf Ghani. In the week ahead of his return, huge billboards sprang up around the city but were quickly covered in paint or mud, testament to the polarising nature of the peace deal. Hekmatyar's bombardment of Kabul during the 1990s inflicted some of the worst damage in more than 40 years of war, destroying one-third of the city and killing tens of thousands of civilians.
  20. KABUL: A suicide bombing in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday killed eight people and wounded at least 28, officials said, in an attack on a convoy of armored personnel carriers used by the NATO-led Resolute Support mission. The blast hit the NATO coalition convoy during the morning rush hour in one of the busiest areas of Kabul. Public health officials in the capital said eight civilians were killed and at least 25 wounded, with a number of civilian vehicles that were near the convoy destroyed or badly damaged. A Resolute Support Spokesman, US Navy Captain Bill Salvin, said three US service members were wounded in the attack. The armored personnel carriers, which are designed to withstand large blasts, were able to return to a coalition base under their own power, he said. The attack follows a threat by the Taliban to target foreign forces in the spring offensive that it launched last week. Witnesses said traces of blood and clothing could be seen on the ground at the blast site. Kabul television stations earlier reported that at least three people had been killed. The heavily armored MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles that coalition forces use to travel in Kabul appeared to have suffered only relatively minor external damage, witnesses said.