The Afghan security forces have killed Taliban key commander Habibullah Nasiri in the northern Kunduz province, a senior police official said on Saturday.
“The notorious Habibullah Nasiri, who was involved in conducting terrorist attacks including target killings and served as the Taliban commander for the provincial capital Kunduz city, was killed Saturday,” Shir Mohammad Parsa told Xinhua.
According to the official, the elimination of commander Nasiri could prove a major setback to the Taliban militants in Kunduz province.
Taliban militants who had lost dozens of fighters in clashes with the government forces outside Kunduz city last week have yet to make comment on the report.
7 killed in separate attacks in Afghan provinces
Seven people have been killed in separate attacks in three Afghan provinces, authorities said Monday.
In one incident, Major Sayyed Monir, a senior provincial traffic police official was shot and killed by Taliban gunmen on the outskirts of Mahmud-e-Raqi, capital of eastern Kapisa province on Monday morning, Abdul Shaeq Shurash, provincial police spokesman, told Xinhua.
“Deceased Sayyed Monir was on his way to office when the militants conducted the terrorist attack. The provincial police units were searching for the culprit after the shooting,” the spokesman said.
In northern Badakhshan province, the Taliban militants killed two Afghan Regional Army members in Wardoj district on Sunday night, Imran Payyam, the district chief, told Xinhua.
The Afghan Regional Army are deployed in remote areas to protect villages and districts where the national army has limited presence.
In neighboring Takhar province, four Taliban militants were killed and five others wounded after the security forces repelled an attack on security checkpoints in Yangi Qala district, Mohammad Jawad Hijir, said provincial government spokesman.
Violence still occured in the war-torn country after a peace deal was signed between the United States and Taliban in Qatar late in February, which paved the way for a phased force withdrawal from the United States.
Afghanistan records 680 new COVID-19 cases
Afghanistan has recorded 680 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of patients infected with the disease to 15,205 in the country, spokesman of the Public Health Ministry Tawhid Shakohmand said Sunday.
According to the spokesman, eight patients have died due to the disease over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of COVID-19 related deaths to 257 since the outbreak of the disease in February in the country.
A total of 25 patients have recovered over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of recovered to 1,328 since February, he added.
Australian soldiers formally accused of war crimes in Afghanistan
Australian Special Forces soldiers have been formally accused of committing war crimes while serving in Afghanistan.
News Corp Australia reported recently that several troops have received notices from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) accusing them of breaching the laws of armed conflict in Afghanistan.
It comes four years after the IGADF launched an investigation into allegations that Special Forces personnel were involved in unlawful killings in Afghanistan.
The notices advise recipients that the IGADF intends to make adverse findings against them, giving them several weeks to respond to the allegations before the report is handed to Angus Campbell, the Chief of the Defence Force, in July.
The final report will make recommendations on what actions should be taken against the accused men, including possible criminal proceedings, as well as recommendations about the culture of the Special Forces.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is conducting a separate investigation into alleged war crimes committed by two Special Forces soldiers, one of who is known only as “Soldier C” while the other is Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) revealed on Wednesday that Soldier C is under investigation for killing an unarmed intellectually disabled Afghan man known only as Ziauddin in 2012.
It is the second killing Soldier C has been implicated in after the ABC in March broadcast helmet camera footage of the soldier – who has since been stood down by the ADF – shooting a different unarmed Afghan man three times while he cowered on the ground.
Afghan farmer harvests wheat on outskirts of Kunduz city
A farmer harvests wheat on the outskirts of Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan on May 30, 2020. (Photo by Ajmal Kakar/Xinhua)
Bomb hits TV bus in Afghan capital, killing 2
A journalist and a driver were killed and four others wounded after a bomb hit a local TV channel’s bus in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, an Interior Ministry official confirmed.
“The roadside bomb blast occurred at 4:05 p.m. local time in Police District 4 of the city. The killed along with the wounded were shifted to a hospital shortly after the explosion,” Marwa Amini, deputy spokesperson of the ministry, told Xinhua.
The minibus, carrying staff of private Khurshid TV channel, was damaged in the blast and an investigation was underway, she added.
Unofficial sources said six people were wounded in the incident, with two people suffering life-threatening wounds.
The Taliban militant group has reportedly denied the attack.
Over the past years, the capital city with a population of nearly five million has been hit by many terror attacks.
Afghanistan reports highest daily increase of COVID-19 cases, 14,525 in total
Afghanistan on Saturday reported 866 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, the biggest daily increase since the outbreak of the pandemic in February, the country’s Ministry of Public Health confirmed.
“A total of 1,425 tests were conducted within the past 24 hours, and 866 cases were tested positive COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement.
Three people died and 44 recovered from the infectious disease during the period, according to the statement.
The latest deaths have brought to 249 the total fatalities while the number of people recovered stands at 1,303.
The ministry has conducted 37,384 tests since February, according to statistic of the public health ministry.
The statement urged Afghans to wear face masks in crowded places, practice physical distancing and keep personnel hygiene.
Gwadar port to boost Pakistan-Afghanistan trade: Afghan envoy
Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Atif Mashal on Friday said Pakistan’s decision to allow Afghan traders to import goods via the Gwadar port in southwestern Balochistan province will boost bilateral trade and transit ties between the two countries.
Mashal’s comments came following the arrival of a cargo ship, carrying 16,000 tons urea for transit to Afghanistan at the Gwadar port, according to China Overseas Port Holding Company which operates the Gwadar port, and Abdul Razak Dawood, advisor to Pakistani prime minister on commerce, textile, industry and production, and investment.
Pakistan last month announced to allow import of the Afghan bulk cargo of wheat, sugar and fertilizers at the Gwadar port and onward transit to Afghanistan in sealable trucks, instead of being limited to containers.
“For the first time, bagging will be done locally instead of foreign ports. Urea will be bagged and shipped on trucks to Afghanistan at Gwadar, which will generate employment for the locals. Instructions have already been passed to allocate all labor jobs to local population,” Dawood said on Twitter on Friday.
The Afghan ambassador welcomed Pakistan’s decision and appreciated efforts by the Pakistani advisor.
“This will certainly have a positive impact on Afghanistan-Pak trade and transit ties. We must extend support to each other for revival of commerce and connectivity in Central and South Asia that will surely benefit people in the region,” Mashal said in a tweet.
Pakistan announced in October last year to open the Gwadar port for the Afghan transit trade as the trade related infrastructure at the port was already to handle bulk cargoes to and from Afghanistan. The first ship carrying containers for Afghan transit trade arrived at the Gwadar port on Jan. 14, 2020.
Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan had signed a transit trade agreement in 1965 that was revised in 2010, which calls for better facilitation in the movement of goods between the two countries.
Afghan traders would previously use ports in Karachi, the commercial hub of Pakistan, for import under the transit trade agreement.
Roundup: Over 2 dozen Afghan security men killed amid undeclared truce, prisoners swap
At least 28 security personnel have been confirmed dead in the militancy-battered Afghanistan since Wednesday amid unofficial ceasefire and prisoners swap between government and the Taliban outfit, officials said Friday.
In the latest violent incidents, the Taliban insurgents stormed a border checkpoint in the eastern Paktia province, killing 14 troopers, the defense ministry said in a statement released Friday.
In the statement the defense ministry accused the Taliban group of violating the truce, saying, “Taliban violated the ceasefire last night and attacked a frontier checkpoint in Dand-e-Patan district, Paktia province, killing 14 security personnel and wounding three others.”
According to the statement, the attacking Taliban militants fled away after suffering huge casualties.
Similarly, the Taliban attack on security checkpoints in Siagurd district of the relatively peaceful Parwan province late Wednesday night claimed the lives of seven security men, spokesperson for provincial government Wahida Shahkar confirmed.
She also asserted that the militants took away two more security personnel to unknown location.
Mohibullah Mohib, the spokesman for police in the western Farah province, has also accused the Taliban group of attacking a checkpoint outside Farah city, the capital of western Farah province and killing seven police on Wednesday night.
According to Mohib, the Taliban also captured three injured police and took to unknown location.
The Taliban group which observed a three-day ceasefire on account of Eid al-Fitr started on Sunday and ended on Tuesday to enable Afghans celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month Ramadan has yet to make comment.
However, the militant group, in counter-accusation, has accused the government air force of targeting residential area in the southern Zabul province and killing civilians, a claim rejected by officials as baseless.
Welcoming the Taliban‘s three-day truce announced on account of Eid al-fitr, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced to set free 2,000 Taliban prisoners and since then has released 1,000 inmates over the past few days, bringing the number of released prisoners to more than 2,000 since late March, while Taliban has freed nearly 350 government men.
A Taliban five-member delegation, according to government sources, is currently in Kabul to discuss the release of more detainees.
Prisoners swap is part of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal inked in Doha on Feb. 29 to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue and pave the way for the pull out of the foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The Afghan government, according to local media, believes that the unofficial ceasefire remains intact following the end of the three-day official ceasefire ended Tuesday.
However, the Taliban outfit has yet to make any comment about the extension of the truce.
COVID-19 positive cases rise to 13,659 in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Public Health Ministry has registered 623 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, totaling the number of patients infected with the virus to 13,659 in the country, a spokesman for the ministry Tawhid Shakohmand said Friday.
According to the official, 11 patients have died due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths to 264 since the outbreak of the disease in February; while 50 patients have recovered over the past 24 hours, counting the recovered to 1,259 in the country.
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