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Found 54 results

  1. Afghan security forces keep watch at a checkpoint near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail KABUL: A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the diplomatic area of the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least one person, officials said. "This morning a suicide bomber blew up his explosives in Shash Darak area of Kabul, killing one and wounding six others," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP. A security source, who requested not to be named, said the explosion happened near a compound belonging to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence agency. The NDS compound is located near to the headquarters of NATO and the US embassy. In December, a suicide attacker on foot blew himself up near the same compound, killing at least six civilians. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack in Kabul, which in recent months has become one of the deadliest places in war-torn Afghanistan for civilians. Since mid-January, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street, and raided a military compound in Kabul, killing more than 130 people.
  2. Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Photo: File RAWALPINDI: Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday arrived in Kabul to attend Chief of Defence (CHOD) conference, informed a press release issued by ISPR. The COAS is expected to meet Commander USCENTCOM, Commander Resolute Support Mission( RSM ) and Afghan Army Chief in the CHOD conference. Earlier, on February 3, a top-level delegation of Pakistan?s civil and military leadership, led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, reached Afghanistan to attend the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Working Group meeting. Pakistan-Afghanistan should engage in cooperation instead of blame game: Janjua Top-level delegation of Pakistan?s civil and military leadership, led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, arrived in Kabul on Saturday Pakistan proposed five joint working groups, focusing on ensuring a comprehensive engagement for countering terrorism, intelligence sharing, military, economy, trade and transit interaction, refugee repatriation and connectivity. A high-level Afghan delegation had also visited Pakistan prior to the Joint Working Group meeting to discuss important issues of mutual interest. The delegation, comprising the Afghan interior minister and the chief of National Directorate of Security, met with Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi. Shedding light on the meeting, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had stressed the need to resolve Pak-Afghan issues bilaterally and said Pakistan ?stands with its Afghan brothers in this hour of grief," referring to the recent spate of bomb-and-gun attacks in Kabul which claimed nearly 200 lives.
  3. Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files KABUL: Seven Afghan army officers, including two generals, have been sacked over a deadly attack on a Kabul military base, President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday, as the Afghan capital braces for further assaults. At least five attackers ? gunmen and suicide bombers ? launched the pre-dawn raid claimed by Daesh on January 29, killing 11 soldiers and wounding 16. "Seven high-ranking officers including two generals committed professional negligence. All seven are sacked and referred for further investigations," Ghani said on Twitter after a probe into the incident. Ghani?s US-backed government is under growing public pressure to improve security in the capital after a series of attacks demonstrated the ability of the Taliban and Daesh to strike at the heart of the country. Since January 20, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street and raided the military compound in Kabul, killing more than 130 people. The assaults, including a devastating ambulance bomb attack that killed more than 100 people and wounded hundreds, have left already war-weary citizens grief-stricken and angry as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives. Kabul remains on high alert for more attacks. The National Directorate of Security ? Afghanistan?s spy agency ? on Tuesday, seized a truck it said was carrying two tonnes of material which could be used to make bombs. The truck was travelling from Kabul to the northern province of Parwan where the US Bagram airbase is located, an official said.
  4. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua/File photo ISLAMABAD: The first ever meeting of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Working Group will be held in Kabul today. Top-level delegation of Pakistan?s civil and military leadership, led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, left for Afghanistan earlier today to attend the meeting. Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Friday confirmed the meeting, and said Pakistan had proposed five joint working groups, focusing on ensuring a comprehensive engagement for countering terrorism, intelligence sharing, military, economy, trade and transit interaction, refugee repatriation and connectivity. Reiterating Pakistan's stance that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem, he said only an Afghan-led and owned peace process will ensure peace in the country. The FO spokesperson also reaffirmed that Pakistan will continue to support efforts for peace in Afghanistan, but the Afghan government needs to reach a settlement with different Afghan groups. Pakistan will not allow its land to be used against neighbours: FO Foreign Office strongly rejects accusations of Pakistan supporting Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network: spokesperson A high-level Afghan delegation visited Pakistan earlier this week to discuss important issues of mutual interest. The delegation, comprising the Afghan interior minister and the chief of National Directorate of Security, met with Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi. Shedding light on the meeting, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had stressed the need to resolve Pak-Afghan issues bilaterally and said Pakistan ?stands with its Afghan brothers in this hour of grief," referring to the recent spate of bomb-and-gun attacks in Kabul over the past month which have claimed nearly 200 lives. Pakistan does not want any violence or terrorism in Afghanistan: Aizaz Pakistan?s Ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Friday reiterated that Pakistan does not want any violence or terrorism in Afghanistan and that it has suffered from the instability across the border. In an interview, Aizaz said it was disappointing that Kabul blamed Pakistan for the ensuing violence, adding that Pakistan will benefit the most ? apart from the people of Afghanistan ? if peace returns to Afghanistan. Ambassador Aizaz said that Pakistan would like to have good relations with the United States and the two countries have worked together for seven decades. He added that Pakistan believes in a relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
  5. Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files WASHINGTON: The United States claimed Monday that the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network was behind Saturday's ambulance bomb in Afghanistan's capital Kabul that killed more than 100 people, a spokesman for the US-led coalition told Reuters on Monday. "We are very confident the Taliban Haqqani network was behind the killing of more than 103 people this past Saturday," Captain Tom Gresback ? a US military spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan ? said. Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the US believed the attack was the work of the Haqqani network, which Washington has long alleged has safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan. Not 'prepared to talk right now' to Taliban: Trump Earlier today, US President Donald Trump ruled out quick talks with the Taliban, following a wave of bloody large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital city. Trump says ?no? to Taliban talks after wave of attacks On Monday Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days, as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives ?I don?t think we are prepared to talk right now,? Trump said, throwing into question Washington?s strategy of pushing the group towards the negotiating table. ?We don?t want to talk with the Taliban,? Trump said. ?They are killing people left and right, innocent people,? he added, saying, ?There may be a time but it?s going to be a long time.? Pakistan condemns Kabul attack Islamabad on Monday strongly condemned the terrorist attack at the military academy in Kabul. "We convey our sincere condolences at the loss of precious human lives in this attack," a statement issued by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 11 soldiers killed as militants attack army post near Kabul military academy Afghan Defence Ministry Spokesman Dawlat Waziri said 16 Afghan army soldiers were injured in the attack "The government and the people of Pakistan convey solidarity and support to the government and people of Afghanistan on this attack. We convey our deepest sympathies to the families of those who have lost their loved ones and pray for the early recovery of the injured." "Pakistanis feel the intense pain and agony of our Afghan brothers and sisters," the statement added. The country also reiterated its strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, especially the series of heinous attacks within the last week in Afghanistan. Prior to that, Dr Mohammad Faisal ? the foreign office spokesperson ? in a reaction to the explosion stressed that "terrorism is not the way forward". He said, "The people and government of Pakistan condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul and extend heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this reprehensible act." Taliban, Daesh escalate offensives On Monday, Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days, as the Taliban and Daesh escalated their offensives. The extremists have stepped up their attacks on beleaguered Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale that is already hit by desertions and corruption. A suicide attack on an Afghan army battalion Monday killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16, a defence ministry spokesperson said. Last Saturday, a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul, killing at least 103 people ? mainly civilians ? and wounding 235, in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years. And, on January 20, Taliban fighters stormed Kabul?s landmark Intercontinental Hotel and killed at least 25 people ? the majority of them foreigners ? in an assault lasting more than 12 hours. In August, Trump concluded a months-long review of America?s strategy to win the brutal war in Afghanistan ? now entering its 17th year ? and called for an increase in the tempo and intensity of strikes against the Taliban. The aim was to persuade some Taliban factions to enter talks with the government in Kabul. This month?s spate of bombings and Trump?s comments indicate that the end game may be further away than the White House would like.
  6. Marshal Fahim National Defence University. Photo: Macecgroup KABUL: Gunmen launched a pre-dawn attack on a military academy in Kabul on Monday, security officials and sources told AFP, in an ongoing assault that marks the latest violence to strike the Afghan capital. Some of the attackers at the Marshal Fahim Military Academy have been killed, an Afghan security source said, adding the gunmen had not managed to enter the academy. Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid told AFP there had been rocket and gunfire but now "it is calm". Witnesses told AFP they heard several explosions and gunfire at around 5am (0030 GMT) at the academy on the outskirts of Kabul where high-ranking military officers are trained. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the raid, which comes days after a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of the city, killing and wounding hundreds. The blasts occurred days after an ambulance bomb in the center of Kabul killed more than 100 people and just over a week after a separate attack on the Intercontinental Hotel killed more than 20. Both those attacks were claimed by the Taliban. In October, a suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus carrying cadets from the defense university, which is home to one of Afghanistan?s main officer training schools, killing 15 of them. This is a developing story and initial reports may vary as further information is made available.
  7. Afghan police officers keep watch while a man drives his damaged car at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on Jan 27, 2018/ Reuters KABUL: Kabul was in despair on Sunday, a day after a Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 100 people and wounded at least 235 in the worst attack in the Afghan capital in months. A week ago, the Taliban killed more than 20 people in a siege of the city?s Intercontinental Hotel. Another six people were killed in an assault claimed by Daesh on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Despite pressure on President Ashraf Ghani?s Western-backed government to improve security, the attacks show no sign of abating, giving rise to helpless anger among residents. ?How are we to live? Where should we go?? asked shopkeeper Mohammad Hanif, who was in his shop near the site of the explosion when it went off. Interior Minister Wais Barmak said the casualty toll had risen to at least 103 dead and 235 wounded. He said at least two vehicles painted as ambulances were involved in the attack, one of which blew up at when it was stopped at a police checkpoint. Security officials have warned of possible further attacks. The Taliban said their attack was intended as a message to US President Donald Trump who last year sent more American troops to Afghanistan and ordered an increase in air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces. ?The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don?t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response,? Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using the term the use to describe themselves. The attack in one of the most heavily protected parts of the city, close to foreign embassies and government buildings, was the worst seen in the Afghan capital since a truck bomb near the German embassy killed 150 people in May. ?People were running everywhere to escape, there were wounded people lying on the ground, people with wounds to their arms, legs, heads,? Hanif said. Despite a major tightening in checks following the May 31 attack, the ambulance was able to get through the checkpoints, apparently without difficulty. ?People don?t have work. There?s no life for people in Afghanistan. People have to look for a life somewhere else, there?s nowhere,? said shopkeeper Sameem. With Ghani embroiled in confrontation with provincial powerbrokers defying central rule, pressure is mounting on the government to set aside political divisions and focus on security. ?The situation is absolutely unacceptable to the people,? said a former government minister, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal. ?The government spends a lot of time and energy in political rivalry and infighting at a time when it has to pay more attention to security.? 'Terrorist war' Former US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad called for Ghani?s government and its main political rival, powerful northern leader Atta Mohammad Noor, to ?come together and resolve their differences?. ?Fighting terrorism and protecting the people is job one. I hope they rise to the occasion,? Khalilzad said on Twitter. Saturday?s attack, described as ?an atrocity? by the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, drew universal condemnation from neighboring countries and allies who had expressed confidence that the new US strategy was producing results. Following a recent visit to Kabul, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the strategy was working and pushing the insurgents closer to peace talks. However, the Taliban have dismissed any suggestion that they have been weakened by the US approach and say they will only agree to talks when international forces leave Afghanistan. The United States, which has accused Pakistan of helping the Taliban and has cut off some aid, urged all countries to take ?decisive action? to stop the violence. Afghan officials also say the insurgency is being directed from outside their country. ?This is not a civil war, this is a terrorist war imposed on the Afghan people,? said Masoom Stanekzai, head of Afghanistan?s main intelligence agency. ?This is a war in which the Afghan people are being used as tools and burned like firewood every day.? Pakistan, which denies accusations it fosters the Afghan war to undermine old rival India?s growing influence there, condemned the attack and called for ?concerted efforts and effective cooperation ... to eradicate the scourge of terrorism?. Afghanistan declared Sunday a day of mourning and said Monday would be a day off to allow care of the victims? families. Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia, which has the world?s biggest Muslim population, was due to visit Kabul on Monday, Ghani?s office said. Widodo has proposed that Indonesian Islamic scholars could help promote Afghan peace, media reported recently.
  8. PARIS: The Eiffel Tower will cut its lights on Saturday night to commemorate those killed and wounded in a devastating ambulance bombing in Kabul, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter. "Tonight at midnight the Eiffel Tower will go out in hommage to the victims of the horrific attack that struck Kabul," Hidalgo said. "The city of Paris and Parisians are with the Afghan people who are once again facing terrorist barbarity." At least 95 people were killed and 158 wounded on Saturday when an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul. A statement from France´s foreign ministry condemned Saturday´s attack and offered support for Afghanistan´s fight against "the scourge of terrorism." The icon of Paris´ skyline is often dimmed or made to display the colours of a country´s flag in shows of respect for those killed or maimed by terror attacks.
  9. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/04a8b99db8399ed89355e78e0b31219d.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8yNy8yMDE4IDk6NDQ6NDYgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT10bTZRQ3lHanovdkM4eER5eXppZG1nPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] KABUL: The bodies of several people killed in a car bomb explosion were taken to Kabul hospitals on Saturday and more than 50 wounded were taken to a hospital run by the aid group Emergency, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast came after heightened security alerts following an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel a week ago. That attack, which killed more than 20 people, was claimed by the Taliban. On January 21, at least five people were killed and six injured after gunmen attacked Kabul?s Intercontinental Hotel, seizing hostages and exchanging gunfire with security forces as the building in the Afghan capital caught fire and residents and staff fled. The operation to rescue the hostages was completed the next day, with 126 hostages, 41 foreigners among them, rescued. At least five dead as gunmen attack top Kabul hotel; 126 hostages rescued According to a witness who did not want to be named, the attackers took some hotel staff and guests hostage The ministry's spokesperson, Najib Danish, said three attackers were killed in the operation. Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab ? who escaped unhurt ? said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen and people tried to get out amid bursts of gunfire. The attack came days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.
  10. At least 22 people were killed in the attack on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday. Photo: Reuters Glenn Selig, the spokesman for Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates, was killed in Saturday's deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Kabul, according to a statement from the spokesperson for The Publicity Agency and Selig Multimedia Inc, his Florida-based companies. Gates pleaded not guilty in October to eight charges of money laundering and failing to register foreign lobbying and other business, according to the CNN. Glenn Selig. Photo: adweek.com Four Americans were among at least 22 people killed in the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on Saturday, according to the US State Department. "The United States strongly condemns the attack on January 20 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. We can confirm that there were four US citizens killed and two injured. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and wish for the speedy recovery of those wounded. Out of respect for the families of the deceased, we have no further comment," US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement. At least five dead as gunmen attack top Kabul hotel; 126 hostages rescued According to a witness who did not want to be named, the attackers took some hotel staff and guests hostage "Unfortunately, we have received confirmation Glenn Selig was killed during the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel," the Selig Multimedia representative said in the statement. "Glenn was a tireless professional, loyal friend and pillar of the community, but most importantly he was a loving husband and wonderful father. "The loss for his family and friends cannot be measured nor conveyed strongly enough, but we thank everyone for the outpouring of support we have received," the statement added. "Moving forward we kindly request privacy and compassion as we process this terrible situation." Kabul hotel guests describe lax security before deadly attack Bags were not checked, scanners did not work, and body searches were nonexistent, according to witnesses Selig's firm's spokesperson added: "Glenn was in Kabul on a potential success story involving Afghanistan and its steps to battle extremism. The focus was highlighting the country's new president and constructing a democracy forum event for Afghani women." US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Sunday condemning the attack. "The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan," he said. "We remain firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world." Gunmen had attacked the hotel Saturday night and were killed the next day after an operation by the Afghan security forces in which over 150 people were rescued.
  11. Afghan security force keep watch near the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan January 20, 2018. Photo: Reuters KABUL: Visitors to an upmarket Kabul hotel attacked by Taliban gunmen have described glaring security gaps immediately before assailants went on a bloody rampage targetting guests, in a city constantly under threat. Bags were not checked, scanners did not work, and body searches were nonexistent, according to witnesses, as the private company providing security to the state-owned Intercontinental Hotel comes under the spotlight after the 12-hour attack overnight Sunday killed at least 22 people, the majority foreigners. Authorities are still investigating how the six militants were able to slip past Kabul Balkh Safety & Security (KBSS) guards and launch the assault with guns and grenades. A witness and a security source told AFP that at least two of the gunmen were armed and inside the hotel before the attack began. An AFP reporter and driver visited the landmark 1960s building on a hilltop overlooking the Afghan capital on Saturday, hours before the assault. They described cursory security checks by KBSS in accounts confirmed by other recent visitors to the hotel. ?We were told the scanning machines were not working today,? said telecom executive Aziz Tayeb, who hid behind a pillar during the assault. ?I also didn?t see any armed guard in the scan room just before you enter the building or inside,? he said, adding his bags were not searched. ?In the past two weeks, I went to the hotel with my family twice. Out of the three or four checkpoints before the main entrance only one of them checked our car. We were not even body searched,? Ahmad Shafi, a frequent visitor, told AFP. An AFP driver said that when he arrived at the first checkpoint around 9:30 am Saturday, the hotel guard casually asked him: ?Do you have a gun?? The driver replied ?No?, and was waved through. At a second checkpoint, guards looked for magnetic bombs on the car using a mirror and sniffer dog, he said. A few metres from the hotel lobby the AFP reporter was checked with a handheld metal detector. It is unclear if the baggage scanning machine was working at the time. No armed guards were seen in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. KBSS declined a request for comment by AFP Tuesday. In a statement, the company said it would do ?everything in its power? to cooperate with the investigation. KBSS, which took over hotel security three weeks ago, was formed in 2004 and lists the United Nations and the European Union as among those it has provided services to. A security source told AFP Monday that KBBS has responsibility for protecting the complex only, with its guards not allowed inside the hotel under a contract he said had been signed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. They were also not allowed to search VIPs, he said. Witnesses have told AFP that the guards fled during the attack, though the security source denied that to AFP. The attack followed security warnings in recent days to avoid locations frequented by foreigners in war-torn Kabul.
  12. Afghan security forces keep watch as smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 21, 2018-Reuters KABUL: Gunmen in army uniforms who stormed Kabul?s Intercontinental Hotel late on Saturday and battled Afghan Special Forces through the night killed more than 30 people and wounded many more, although the final toll of dead and wounded may still be higher. Wahid Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said that 19 bodies had been brought into city hospitals, with six identified as foreigners. However a senior Afghan security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the death toll was over 30 and might climb higher. The dead included hotel staff and guests as well as members of the security forces who fought the attackers. All five attackers were also killed, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said. In Kiev, Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Twitter that six Ukrainians were killed in the attack. The raid was the latest in a series of attacks that have underlined the city?s vulnerability and the ability of militants to mount high-profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government. More than 150 guests were able to flee as parts of the building caught fire, with some shimmying down sheets tied together and dropped from upper-floor windows and others rescued by Afghan forces. Local airline Kam Air said around 40 of its pilots and air crew, many of whom are foreigners, were staying in the hotel and as many as 10 had been killed. Local media reports said the dead included Venezuelans and Ukrainians. Zamari Kamgar, the airline?s deputy director, said it was still trying to locate staff. The Taliban, which attacked the same hotel in 2011, claimed responsibility for the attack, its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. A statement from the interior ministry put the blame on the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Taliban that is notorious for its attacks on urban targets. Abdul Rahman Naseri, a guest who was at the hotel for a conference, was in the hall of the hotel when he saw four gunmen dressed in army uniforms. ?They were shouting in Pashto (language), ?Don?t leave any of them alive, good or bad?. ?Shoot and kill them all,? one of them shouted,? Naseri said. ?I ran to my room on the second floor. I opened the window and tried to get out using a tree but the branch broke and I fell to the ground. I hurt my back and broke a leg.? Even after officials said the attack was over, sporadic gunshots and explosions could be heard from the site. Thick smoke As day broke on Sunday, thick clouds of black smoke poured from the building, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in Kabul. The Intercontinental is one of two main luxury hotels in the city and had been due to host an information technology conference on Sunday. More than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the attack took place, said Ahmad Waheed, an official at the telecommunications ministry. Danesh said a private company had taken over responsibility for security at the hotel three weeks ago and there would be an investigation into possible failings, just days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul. Several armored US military vehicles with heavy machine guns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units as Special Forces maneuvered around the site. Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who escaped unhurt, said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen before going through the hotel, with many guests trapped in their rooms. The senior security official said that the attackers had moved directly from the first floor to the fourth and fifth floors, suggesting the attack had been carefully prepared, possibly with inside help. ?When the sixth floor caught fire this morning, my roommate told me, either burn or escape,? said Mohammad Musa, who was hiding in his room on the top floor. ?I got a bed sheet and tied it to the balcony. I tried to come down but I was heavy and my arms were not strong enough. I fell down and injured my shoulder and leg.? US warning Although US and Afghan officials say the Taliban has been forced onto the back foot after the United States increased its help to Afghan security forces and stepped up air strikes last year, security remains precarious across the country. In separate incidents on Sunday, eight people were killed by a roadside bomb in the western province of Herat and 18 members of local militia forces were killed at a checkpoint in the northern province of Balkh. As pressure on the battlefield has increased, officials have warned that the danger of attacks on high-profile targets in Kabul and other cities would increase. The insurgents have carried out dozens of such attacks over recent years. After repeated strikes on Kabul, notably last May when a truck bomber killed at least 150 people outside the German embassy, security has been further tightened. Large areas of central Kabul are already closed off behind high concrete blast walls and police checkpoints but the ability of the assailants to get into a well-protected hotel frequented by both government officials and foreigners demonstrated how difficult it remains to stop them. The attack, just days after a UN Security Council visit to Kabul to allow senior representatives of member states to assess the situation in Afghanistan, may further weaken confidence in the government. President Ashraf Ghani ordered an investigation and said militant groups were being helped by neighboring countries. ?As long as the terrorist groups have secure protection and safe haven, the region will not find security, stability,? he said in a statement. US ambassador John Bass said the embassy was in close contact with Afghan authorities. ?Such violence has no place here or anywhere in the world,? he said in a statement.
  13. FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal. Photo: File ISLAMABAD: Pakistan rejected on Sunday ?knee-jerk allegations? by some Afghan circles of the attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, according to Foreign Office. In posted on Twitter, FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal stated that there was a need for credible investigation into the attack, including a report on the security lapses. A press release issued earlier in the day stated that FO strongly condemned the brutal terrorist attack at the hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. ?We express deep grief and sorrow at the loss of precious human lives and the injuring of many others in this terrorist act,? it stated. The statement further read that cooperation among the states is important for effectively combating and eliminating the scourge of terrorism. The attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul claimed the lives of at least 19 people and left 12 others wounded. At least 19 dead after overnight battle at Kabul hotel The final toll of dead and wounded may still be higher All five attackers were also killed, interior ministry spokesperso Najib Danesh said. Local airline Kam Air said around 40 of its pilots and air crew, many of whom are foreigners, were staying in the hotel and as many as 10 had been killed. Local media reports said the dead included Venezuelans and Ukrainians. More than 150 guests were able to flee as parts of the building caught fire, with some dropping down from upper-floor windows and others rescued by Afghan forces.
  14. Afghan security force keep watch near the site of an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan January 20, 2018.REUTERS KABUL: Gunmen in army uniforms who stormed Kabul?s Intercontinental Hotel late on Saturday and battled Afghan Special Forces through the night killed at least 19 people and wounded 12 more, although the final toll of dead and wounded may still be higher. Wahid Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 19 bodies had been brought into city hospitals, with six identified as foreigners. The number of casualties may climb higher, however. All five attackers were also killed, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said. Local airline Kam Air said around 40 of its pilots and air crew, many of whom are foreigners, were staying in the hotel and as many as 10 had been killed. Local media reports said the dead included Venezuelans and Ukrainians. Zamari Kamgar, the airline?s deputy director, said it was still trying to locate staff. More than 150 guests were able to flee as parts of the building caught fire, with some shimmying down sheets tied together and dropped from upper-floor windows and others rescued by Afghan forces. The Taliban, which attacked the same hotel in 2011, was responsible for the attack, its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. Abdul Rahman Naseri, a guest who was at the hotel for a conference, was in the hall of the hotel when he saw four gunmen dressed in army uniforms. ?They were shouting in Pashto (language), ?Don?t leave any of them alive, good or bad?. ?Shoot and kill them all,? one of them shouted,? Naseri said. ?I ran to my room on the second floor. I opened the window and tried to get out using a tree but the branch broke and I fell to the ground. I hurt my back and broke a leg.? Even after officials said the attack was over, sporadic gunshots and explosions could be heard from the site. The raid was the latest in a series of attacks that have underlined the city?s vulnerability and the ability of militants to mount high-profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government. A statement from the interior ministry put the blame on the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Taliban. Thick smoke As day broke on Sunday, thick clouds of black smoke poured from the building, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in Kabul. The Intercontinental is one of two main luxury hotels in the city and had been due to host an information technology conference on Sunday. More than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the attack took place, said Ahmad Waheed, an official at the telecommunications ministry. Danesh said a private company had taken over responsibility for security at the hotel three weeks ago and there would be an investigation into possible failings, just days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul. Several armoured US military vehicles with heavy machine guns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units as Special Forces manoeuvred around the site. Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who escaped unhurt, said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen before going through the hotel, with many guests trapped in their rooms. ?When the sixth floor caught fire this morning, my roommate told me, either burn or escape,? said Mohammad Musa, who was hiding in his room on the top floor. ?I got a bed sheet and tied it to the balcony. I tried to come down but I was heavy and my arms were not strong enough. I fell down and injured my shoulder and leg.?
  15. The Inter-Continental hotel in Kabul was earlier attacked on June 28, 2011. Photo: The Telegraph KABUL: Four gunmen attacked Kabul's luxury Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday and started shooting at guests, an Afghan official said, in the latest violence to strike the Afghan capital. "Four attackers are inside the building," an official at the Afghan spy agency told AFP. They are "shooting at guests", he added. The fourth floor of the hotel is on fire, the official from the National Directorate of Security added. Occupants inside the hotel are hiding on the second floor, a security source said. A guest hiding in his room in the hotel told AFP he could hear gunfire. "I don't know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor," he said without giving his name. "We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us." The Intercontinental was last targeted in June 2011 when a suicide attack killed 21 people, including 10 civilians. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is received.
  16. Daesh has claimed nearly 20 attacks across Kabul in 18 months, with cells including students, professors and shopkeepers evading Afghan and US security forces to bring carnage to the highly fortified city KABUL: Middle-class Afghans turned extremists have assisted Daesh´s expansion from its stronghold in Afghanistan´s restive east to Kabul, analysts say, helping to make the capital one of the deadliest places in the country. Daesh has claimed nearly 20 attacks across Kabul in 18 months, with cells including students, professors and shopkeepers evading Afghan and US security forces to bring carnage to the highly fortified city. It is an alarming development for Kabul´s war-weary civilians and beleaguered security forces, who are already struggling to beat back the resurgent Taliban, as well as the US counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan. "This is not just a group that has a rural bastion in eastern Afghanistan -- it is staging high casualty, high visibility attacks in the nation´s capital and I think that´s something to be worried about," said analyst Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center in Washington. The Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-K) emerged in the region in 2014, largely made up of disaffected fighters from the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. It claimed its first attack in Kabul in the summer of 2016. There is no shortage of recruits, analysts say. Daesh has successfully tapped a rich vein of extremism in Afghanistan that has existed for decades and crosses socio-economic groups -- fanned by growing internet access among urban youth. "We are talking about a generation which has been desensitised to different types of violence and violent extremism," said Borhan Osman, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. "It should not come as a surprise that some of the youth inculcated in the ideology of jihadism embrace the next version of jihadism, the most violent one." Members and supporters of Daesh cells in Kabul hide in the open, living with their families and going to classes or work every day, Osman said. The militants meet at night to discuss ?holy war?, and plot attacks on targets in the city they know well -- well enough to adapt to changes, such as tightened security in the wake of a massive truck bomb in May that killed around 150 people. "It´s an adaptive structure reacting to the counter measures," a Western diplomat told AFP. "From May to December what we have seen is different types of attacks, smaller attacks that are getting through." An Afghan security source previously told AFP that "20 or more" IS-K cells were operating in the city. ´Hunt them down´ Osman, an expert on militant networks in Afghanistan, said it was difficult to know how many IS-K fighters were in Kabul but their ranks were constantly being replenished by the group´s recruitment efforts on social media as well as in universities, schools and mosques. "You can´t say they are all poor -- a number of them come from middle-class Kabuli families. Some are university educated. Some have a high school education," he said, adding that most have some religious education as well. An Afghan security source agreed. "The new wave of extremists is not an uneducated farmer. It is mainly people with a good level of education," he told AFP on condition of anonymity. While the Taliban remains by far the biggest threat to Afghanistan´s security forces and government, IS-K has dominated headlines in recent months with attacks in Kabul, including three last month alone which killed dozens of people. Some have come within metres of embassies and NATO´s Resolute Support mission, a disconcerting reply to vows by the head of US Forces-Afghanistan General John Nicholson to "hunt them down" until they are "annihilated". Last year the US dropped the so-called Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat, on Daesh strongholds in Nangarhar. That has been followed by intense aerial bombing by Afghan and US forces. But analysts point out that the strategy has failed to destroy Daesh-- and may have even pushed more militants into Kabul, where using that sort of overwhelming firepower is not an option. New Daesh base? The group´s resilience has raised fears that Afghanistan could become a new base for Daesh fighters fleeing the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, where the group has lost swathes of territory. But the exact nature of links between Daesh in Afghanistan and the Middle East remains unclear. The Afghan government claims there is no connection. Analysts told AFP there is communication, and AFP reported last month that French and Algerian fighters, some arriving from Syria, had joined Daesh in northern Afghanistan where the group has established new bases. Regardless of links, the goals of Daesh in the Middle East and in Afghanistan appear to be aligned: stirring up sectarian violence. Its success in the capital aside, Daesh will struggle to turn Afghanistan into a new sectarian front, predicts Kugelman, who points out that most cleavages in Afghanistan are ethnic, not sectarian. At any rate, he says, "why would you want your new front to be in a place where you have some of the most relentless levels of firepower being used against you?"
  17. 13 people were killed in the blast which was claimed by Daesh, adding to the carnage caused by the militant group in the Afghan capital-AFPkabul Pakistan has condemned a suicide attack in Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday in which several people were killed and injured. The foreign office in a statement said that Pakistan is sorrowful over the loss of precious lives and said it prays for the speedy recovery of the wounded. Pakistan stands with the Afghan government and people in this hour of sorrow, the statement added. Pakistan will continue to take every possible step to defeat the monster of terrorism, the foreign office said. According to AFP, which quoted officials, 13 people were killed in the blast which was claimed by Daesh, adding to the carnage caused by the militant group in the Afghan capital. Thursday evening´s blast targeted police as they clashed with angry protesters following a raid on shopkeepers accused of illegally peddling drugs and alcohol. "At this time a suicide bomber detonated himself among the crowd, killing and injuring dozens," Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP. All of the dead were police. Among the 18 wounded were 16 officers and two civilians, deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told reporters. "The bomber came from among the protesters and targeted our police forces," Rahimi said, adding the attacker was wearing civilian clothes. The blast stripped bark from trees and shattered windows of nearby apartments, underscoring the devastating force of a single suicide bomber. An AFP reporter several kilometres from the scene heard the explosion.
  18. KABUL: An explosion in Kabul on Thursday claimed at least ten lives, according to statements of eyewitnesses. Initial reports indicate that the explosion occurred in Banaee area in Kabul?s PD9 at around 8:30 PM (Kabul time) on Thursday evening. According to a statement from Emergency Hospital in Kabul, almost 20 wounded were brought to the facility following the explosion, Afghan media reported. Eyewitnesses say it was a suicide bombing but police officials have not commented on the incident so far. Earlier in the day, a demonstration was launched by locals in the area.
  19. Debris seen at the office of Afghan news agency in Kabul KABUL: At least five people were killed and six others wounded in multiple blasts near a media outlet and mosque in Kabul on Thursday, officials said, in the latest violence to hit the Afghan capital. "There were two explosions. We still do not know the target of the attack, but Afghan Voice Agency is in the area of the attack," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said. "Our initial information shows there are five dead and six wounded but this toll could change." AFP reporters near the scene of the blast heard a third explosion, suggesting the attack may still be under way. A hospital official told local TV that 18 wounded had been brought to his facility, including five in a critical condition. Photos posted on Afghan Voice Agency´s Facebook page showed the inside of a compound with debris and bodies lying on the ground. This is a breaking story and will be updated as reports come in.
  20. KABUL: A suicide bomber on foot blew himself up close to a compound of Afghanistan?s national intelligence agency in the capital, Kabul, on Monday, killing at least three people and wounding one, government officials said. The blast comes a week after Daesh claimed an attack on a training facility of the same agency, the National Directorate for Security, in Kabul that ended when the attackers were killed before causing significant casualties. An official said the explosion occurred close to the agency?s entrance. Ismail Kawsi, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said at least three dead and one wounded had been taken to city hospitals. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
  21. Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 18 ,2017. Photo: REUTERS2 KABUL: Armed militants stormed an intelligence agency training facility in Kabul on Monday, officials said, triggering intense fighting with police in the latest attack to hit the Afghan capital. "Around 10:10 am, a group of armed attackers entered an under-construction building in (the) NDS training centre in (the) Afshar area of Kabul," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP, referring to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan´s spy agency. "The fighting is ongoing and we have also launched our operation." There were no immediate reports of any casualties. Nasrat Rahim, a deputy interior ministry spokesman, said the sound of large and small arms fire could be heard from the fighting. Roads to the area were closed and dozens of police and intelligence officers were blocking access to the public. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. Previously both the Taliban and, increasingly, the Daesh group have carried out devastating attacks in Kabul. In November, a suicide attacker blew himself up outside a political gathering in Kabul, killing at least 14 people. The bombing was claimed by the Daesh group.
  22. 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.
  23. 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".
  24. 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.
  25. 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.