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Afghan airstrikes kill 17 militants

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Foreign

4 security force members wounded in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan’s Kabul

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Two Afghan police officers and two army soldiers were wounded in Taliban attacks in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan on Saturday, a source said.

“Two Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded following an improvised bomb explosion near Ministry of Public Works building in Police District of 16 of Kabul,’’ a source from capital Police told Xinhua.

One Ministry of Defence vehicle was also severely damaged in the explosion at the morning rush hours, added the source, who declined to be named.

Before dawn, two police officers were injured after Taliban militants stormed a security checkpoint in Istalif, a district on northern outskirts of Kabul, the source added.

The fighting lasted for two hours and the militants were forced back by policemen manning the checkpoint.

The Taliban militants intensified attacks, using fight and run tactic as they have regularly attacked security forces’ positions across the country since February’s peace deal between the Taliban and the United States.

The fresh clashes raise questions about the peace deal, which paved the way for a phased United States force withdrawal.

According to the agreement, more than 10,000 foreign forces, including over 8,000 Americans, will withdraw from Afghanistan by July next year.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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United States pilot safe after aircraft crashes in Afghanistan

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Aircraft

A United States Air Force pilot flying an Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano safely ejected before the aircraft crashed during a training flight in Afghanistan, a United States military spokesman confirmed on Friday.

“The pilot ejected prior to the crash and was safely recovered,’’ the United States army in Afghanistan said.

The spokesman said that though the cause of the incident is under investigation, preliminary indications show that the aircraft crashed due to “mechanical” issues.

The United States army spokesman did not disclose where the crash occurred.

On Thursday, local officials in Afghanistan’s north-eastern Baghlan province confirmed that an army aircraft had crashed in the province’s Doshi district where Taliban militants have a huge presence.

The officials said the pilot rescued himself using a parachute.

The Afghan army did not comment on whether the United States instructor was flying the aircraft alone or with an Afghan pilot.

The A-29 light attack aircraft is used for air support and has two seats.

The United States-led NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan provides training, advice and assist mission to Afghan forces to enhance their capabilities in the fight against the insurgency in the country.

Currently, there are around 12,000 international troops from 38 countries including the United States stationed in Afghanistan.

The United States signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in February that paves the way for the withdrawal of all international troops from Afghanistan and, in exchange, the group should start intra-Afghan talks in a bid to end the 19-year conflict.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Afghanistan to release prisoners from Taliban list in push for talks

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Afghanistan is to release more Taliban prisoners in the hope of getting peace talks going, a government spokesman said on Thursday, after the insurgent group provided the government with a revised list of several hundred of their detainees.

Disagreement over about 600 prisoners from a total of 5,000 the Taliban want released has prevented the launch of United States-brokered peace talks aimed at ending almost 19 years of war since the Islamist militants were ousted.

While releases by both sides have taken place, the Afghan government has said it does not want to release some prisoners for security reasons and its Western allies also object to some of them being set free.

“They have given us another list, the release process will continue but direct talks should also start immediately,” Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, told Reuters.

However, the Taliban could not be reached for comment and it was not clear if they would be willing to start talks based on the release of the prisoners on the list.

The United States and the Taliban struck a landmark agreement in February on the withdrawal of United States forces in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

As part of the pact, the Taliban agreed to open power-sharing talks with the United States-backed government.

However, a senior government official said there was still no agreement on starting the talks.

“The government will start the process of release in the coming few days and will complete the release whether the Taliban agree or not,” he said.

A diplomatic source said United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has overseen the negotiations with the Taliban, has been pressing Taliban leaders to compromise on the prisoner issue and there were hopes the hurdle would be overcome.

“Momentum is such that it would not be possible for any side to back out,” the source said.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)

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Over 50 killed in Afghanistan’s skirmishes in 24 hours

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More than 50 fighters have been killed in the insurgency-plagued Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, officials said Thursday.

In the latest fighting that occurred in restive Wardoj district of the northern Badakhshan province Thursday morning, four Taliban fighters were killed and two others wounded, district governor Mohammad Imran told Xinhua.

According to Imran, only one pro-government militia was killed in the fighting.

Similarly, a bomb blast targeted a car in the eastern Nangarhar’s provincial capital Jalalabad city wounding a district official and his son on Thursday, while two blasts on Wednesday night left two dead including a civilian and a police and injured eight others, police confirmed.

A total of 18 militants were killed and 12 others injured in Shah Walikot district of the southern Kandahar province over the past 24 hours, according to an army statement released Thursday.

The government forces, according to army statement, have killed 15 insurgents in the eastern Ghazni province since Wednesday.

Moreover, a statement of Interior Ministry reported killing 17 militants in the eastern Paktia, southern Helmand and western Farah province over the past 24 hours.

Taliban militants have yet to make comments on the claims by the officials.

Fighting usually gets momentum in spring and summer commonly known as the fighting season in Afghanistan.

(XINHUA)

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Afghan airstrikes kill 15 militants including foreign fighters in eastern Ghazni

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A total of 15 militants including seven foreign fighters have been confirmed dead as fighting planes targeted a Taliban hideout in the eastern Ghazni province on Wednesday, said an army statement released here Thursday.

According to the statement, the militants launched attacks on Ashaqwal and Nugahi areas in the outskirt of the provincial capital Ghazni city on Wednesday afternoon. The troops backed by fighting planes retaliated, killing 15 insurgents including seven foreign nationals, forcing the militants to flee.

Taliban militants who are active in parts of Ghazni province have yet to make comments.

(XINHUA)

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Afghanistan confirms 186 new COVID-19 cases

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Afghanistan‘s Public Health Ministry has confirmed 186 new COVID-19 positive cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of patients infected with the virus to 32,022, a spokesman for the ministry Sayedudin Jami said Thursday.

Kabul, with 61 new positive cases of COVID-19, topped all provinces while the remaining 125 cases are in other parts of the insurgency-plagued country, the official added.

According to the official, 33 patients have died due to the virus over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 807 since the outbreak of the virus in February in Afghanistan.

Jami also said that 440 patients have recovered over the period, bringing the number of recovered ones to 16,041 in the country since February.

(XINHUA)

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Blast kills 1, wounds 9 in Afghanistan’s northern Mazar-i-Sharif city

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One civilian was killed and nine others including five police and four civilians injuried as a blast rocked Mazar-i-Sharif city the capital of northern Balkh province on Wednesday evening, provincial police spokesman Adil Shah Adil said Thursday.

The blast happened late Wednesday evening, killing one civilian on the spot and wounding five police and four civilians, the official added.

Without providing more details, the official said that investigation had been initiated into the incident.

Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province 305 km north of Kabul has been regarded as the safest city in the conflict-battered Afghanistan.

(XINHUA)

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United States special envoy holds talks with Pakistani FM on Afghan peace process

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United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on Wednesday on the peace process in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said.

Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan, the second one in a month, was part of his regular engagement for consultations and exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Qureshi welcomed the latest developments including announcements on formation of a negotiating team and establishment of the High Council for National Reconciliation by the Afghan government for the negotiations with the Taliban, according to the statement.

“He (Qureshi) urged that all sides should make earnest efforts for reduction in violence. He also emphasized that it was important not to let the spoilers undermine or derail the process of intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement said.

The Pakistani foreign minister expressed the hope that release of prisoners would be completed soon to pave the way for the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

Under the Taliban-United States agreement signed on Feb. 29, the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would free 1,000 prisoners of the government. The slow pace of the release of prisoners has delayed the intra-Afghan dialogue, which was scheduled to start on March 10.

He also raised the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and underlined the role of the international community for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor.

The statement said Khalilzad expressed condolences on the loss of lives in the terrorist attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on Monday and extended United States support.

(XINHUA)

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Gov’t security forces’ counter-attack kills 14 militants in E. Afghanistan

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The Afghan national security forces killed 14 Taliban militants and wounded three others during a counter-attack late on Tuesday in the country’s eastern Ghazni province, the country’s Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.

“Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) responded with heavy and light weapons to a Taliban attack in Andar district of Ghazni, foiling their offensive and killing 14 militants on the spot,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ANDSF members were not hurt during the attack, the statement noted.

Sporadic clashes and fighting occur in the countryside as Taliban militants have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their positions.

(XINHUA)

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