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Taliban, Afghan president declare three-day Eid ceasefire from Sunday

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The Taliban declared a three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan starting Sunday, via a tweet on Saturday from the hard-line Islamist group.

The country’s president said the government would reciprocate.

The move came as fighting between the two sides had intensified despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere, if any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,’’ Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted.

He added that the ceasefire was declared solely for Eid festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the Taliban’s ceasefire announcement and extended the offer of peace.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defence and Security Forces) to comply with the three-days truce and to defend only if attacked,’’ he said in a tweet.

Last month, the Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across Afghanistan for Ramadan, saying a truce was “not rational” as they ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

At least 146 civilians were killed and 430 wounded by the Taliban during Ramadan, Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the country’s main intelligence and security office in Kabul, said on Saturday.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Babatunde Abdulfatah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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Afghan gov’t releases 100 Taliban inmates in goodwill gesture: official

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The Afghan government freed 100 Taliban inmates from Bagram prison on Monday as a gesture of goodwill, spokesperson of Office of the National Security Council confirmed.

“The Government released 100 Taliban prisoners from Parwan (province) today as a gesture of goodwill to advance peace efforts, including an extended ceasefire and the immediate start of direct talks,” spokesman Javid Faisal tweeted.

The move came after Taliban militants announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr festival, starting from Sunday.

On March 11, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release 5,000 Taliban inmates on parole and Taliban agreed to release 1,000 soldiers but the exchange of prisoners was repeatedly delayed.

As of May 10, some 1,000 Taliban fighters and 200 Afghan government soldiers were freed by the two sides but the process of exchange of the prisoners was suspended over dispute on swap of prisoners.

The exchange of prisoners is part of a peace deal inked between the Taliban and the United States in Qatar in February. However, the Afghan government was not a signatory of the deal.

To expedite the peace process, President Ghani on Sunday ordered the release of another 2,000 Taliban detainees.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Afghans’ ceasefire remains intact as President Ghani promises to release 2,000 more Taliban prisoners

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Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban outfit on Saturday and vowed to set free 2,000 more Taliban detainees to expedite the peace process.

The Taliban leadership on Saturday evening, the eve of Eid al-Fitr, declared a three-day ceasefire, ordering its fighters to stay inside their bases and refrain from fighting.

Afghanistan, like other Muslim countries celebrated Eid al-Fitr on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims’ fasting month Ramadan.

In his short address after offering Eid al-Fitr prayer on Sunday, President Ghani welcomed the Taliban announcement for a ceasefire as a goodwill gesture towards peace and promised to set free 2,000 more prisoners.

Both the Taliban and Afghan government have exchanged more than 1,200 prisoners including more than 1,000 Taliban and some 200 security personnel since inking the U.S.-Taliban peace deal on Feb. 29.

The Afghan president, who ordered his forces to resume offensives on the armed group following deadly attacks on maternity in Kabul and funeral ceremony in Nangarhar weeks ago, also instructed his forces to return to a defensive position to support the ceasefire in the country in his speech on Sunday.

Calling upon the Taliban to reciprocate the release of prisoners and observe permanent ceasefire in the country, Ghani said his negotiating team “is ready to initiate dialogue” with the armed group to end the war in Afghanistan.

Since the observance of the ceasefire in Afghanistan on Sunday, no security incident has been reported.

Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit told media that the group’s fighters are in defensive posture during the three-day Eid holidays.

Some countries including the United States, Qatar, Pakistan and India have welcomed the three-day ceasefire observed by warring sides during Eid al-Fitr holidays in Afghanistan.

(XINHUA)

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UN chief welcomes ceasefire announcement by Taliban, Afghan gov’t

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he welcomed the announcement by the Taliban and the Afghan government of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday in peace.

In a statement, the secretary-general urged all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Only a peaceful settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, in the statement.

The UN has been committed to supporting the people and government of Afghanistan in this important endeavor, said the statement.

The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr, starting from Sunday. The Afghan government has reciprocated.

(XINHUA)

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Afghanistan marks Eid al-Fitr festival in peace as Taliban, gov’t force observe ceasefire

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Afghans marked Eid al-Fitr festival by attending prayers amid peace as the Taliban outfit and government security forces observed a three-day ceasefire, starting from Sunday.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr is to be observed on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani attended in Eid prayers together with senior officials and cabinet members in a mosque in Presidential Palace earlier on Sunday.

“I congratulate Eid al-Fitr to all my fellow Afghans and Muslims around the world,” Ghani said after offering the prayer, broadcast live by the state-run TV.

President Ghani welcomed Taliban’s announcement of observing a ceasefire during the Eid days.

In his short speech, the Afghan leader added that “we request the Taliban not to harm people of Afghanistan. As the majority of religious scholars are in the view that the current war in Afghanistan has no legitimacy anymore. Today the war has not legitimacy, I assure the Taliban and the people that the negotiation team of the government is ready to instantly conduct peace talks and negotiations.”

Ghani added that as commander in chief he has instructed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked.

On Saturday, the Afghan gov’t urged citizens to respect lockdown during Eid al-Fitr days in big cities and towns, warning that the recent neglect of restrictions in the capital city Kabul had been a main factor for the increase of new coronavirus cases in the city.

(XINHUA)

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Afghan Taliban announces 3-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr festival

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The Taliban outfit has announced a three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government during Eid al-Fitr, the second annual religious festival holidays, starting from Sunday, a Taliban spokesman confirmed.

“In order that our countrymen may celebrate their Eid festivities in ease and comfort, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (name of the ousted Taliban regime) orders all the Mujahideen to adopt special preparatory measures for the safety of our countrymen and not to attack the enemy in any place but if there is attack from enemy in any place then a befitting defensive response shall be given,” Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement reaching Xinhua Sunday.

The spokesman also urged the fighters not to go to areas under the control of the government.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the announcement.

“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban. The Afghan government extends the offer of peace. As commander in chief I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces)to comply with the three days truce and to defend only if attacked,” Ghani tweeted.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr is to be observed on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramadan.

(XINHUA)

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Afghan forces kill Taliban key commander in northern Kunduz province

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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.

(XINHUA)

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Air raids kill 21 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s Jawzjan province

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A total of 21 militants were confirmed dead as fighting planes struck a Taliban gathering in the northern Jawzjan province on Thursday, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said.

According to the official, the fighting planes dropped bombs on the Taliban gathering and their hideout in two parts of Manjik district of Jawzjan province in the wee hours of Thursday, killing 21 insurgents.

The official said the security forces would continue to target the insurgents elsewhere in the country.

Taliban militants who had lost six fighters in similar air raids in the northern Kunduz province late Wednesday night have yet to make comment.

(XINHUA)

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15 Taliban militants surrender in Afghanistan’s Baghlan

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Fifteen Taliban militants surrendered and handed over their weapons in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan on Wednesday, as the government has been trying to reconcile the insurgents after more than two decades of insurgency.

“I and my subordinates have found out that Taliban militants have turned away from the right path and they are fighting to harm Afghans so we decided to quit that wrong pathway and join the reconciliation process,” Mohammad Zaman, the leader of the group, told a ceremony here.

He also called on fellow Taliban members to join the process.

Acting provincial Governor Abdul Qadim Niazi said at the same event that the men, who surrendered to a provincial branch of National Directorate of Security (NDS), or national intelligence agency, were active in remote Tala Wa Barfak district.

“With the former insurgents’ surrender, peace and stability would be further strengthened Tala Wa Barfak district of the province, 160 km north of national capital of Kabul,” Niazi said, adding that the local government will spare no effort to provide security and assistance to the surrendered insurgents.

The Afghan government set up a High Peace Council and launched the peace and reconciliation process a decade ago to encourage the Taliban to disarm and give up militancy against the government.

(XINHUA)

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7 killed, 40 wounded in Taliban attack in Afghanistan’s Ghazni: gov’t

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Seven people were killed and 40 others wounded in a Taliban car bomb blast outside an intelligence agency military camp in Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province on Monday, the provincial government said.

The incident occurred after a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a hijacked explosive-laden military vehicle outside a National Directorate for Security (NDS) camp at 4:40 a.m. local time, where a special unit of NDS, the country’s national intelligence agency, stationed, the government said in a statement.

“As a result of the blast, seven people were martyred and 40 others wounded,” the statement said, adding eight of the wounded were in critical condition.

The force of the blast smashed windowpane and glasses of houses in a 2 km radius but civilians were not hurt in the incident, according to the statement.

Taliban militants claimed the attack shortly after the incident, in the province 125 km south of the country’s capital Kabul.

It is the latest in a spate of such attacks when the Afghans are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

On Thursday, five civilians were killed and 46 people, including six soldiers, were wounded in a Taliban truck bomb blast against an army office in Gardez city, capital of neighboring Paktia province.

(XINHUA)

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7 pro-gov’t militiamen killed in Taliban ambush in N. Afghanistan

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Seven pro-government local militiamen were killed and two others wounded in a Taliban militants’ ambush in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province on Monday as fighting rages in the country, local police confirmed.

“A group of pro-government tribal militiamen, known as local uprising fighters, clashed with Taliban militants after the militants ambushed the group in surrounding areas of Khwaja Bahawoddin district this morning. The clashes lasted for more than one hour, leaving the casualties,” Abdul Khalil Asir, provincial police spokesman, told Xinhua.

Local uprising fighters, who are receiving support from Afghan security agencies, provide security and protect remote villages and districts around the country where army and police have limited presence.

Several militants were also killed or wounded in the fighting based on the bloodstains on the clash site, the police official added. The province has been the scene of clashes and fighting for long.

It is the latest in a spate of such attacks when the Afghans are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

(XINHUA)

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At least 7 killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan’s Ghazni

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At least seven people were killed and 25 others wounded in a Taliban car bomb blast and an ensuing gun shooting outside an intelligence agency military camp in Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province on Monday, a provincial source said.

“Seven killed and 25 wounded people were admitted to the provincial hospital in provincial capital Ghazni city after a terrorist attack Monday morning,” Baz Mohammad Hemat, head of provincial public health department, told Xinhua.

The incident occurred when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a massive car bomb roughly at 05:30 a.m. local time outside a National Directorate for Security (NDS) camp in a southern area of Ghazni city, enabling the second group of militants to engage with security force members before trying to enter the station, a security source told Xinhua.

The explosion also damaged a nearby Islamic affairs office, the source said.

Sporadic clashes between attackers and security forces are still continuing as of 08:00 a.m. local time in the area.

Security forces have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures. Thick gray smoke was seen rising above the site.

(XINHUA)

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24 Taliban fighters surrender in N. Afghan province

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Twenty-four Taliban militants on Saturday surrendered in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province, an army source confirmed.

“A Taliban local leader named Mohammad Akran together with 23 of his fighters surrendered to Afghan Regional Army forces in Gurziwan district, Faryab province Saturday morning,” Hanif Rezai, spokesman of army Corps 209 Shaheen based in the region, told Xinhua.

They have brought some amount of ammunition and more than 20 guns, he added.

With the former insurgents’ surrender, peace and stability would be further strengthened in the territory, the statement said.

He also urged the Taliban to denounce violence and join the peace and national reconciliation process.

The Afghan government has set up a High Peace Council and launched the peace and reconciliation process in 2010 to encourage the Taliban to disarm and give up militancy against the government.

Since then, more than 12,000 Taliban militants have laid down arms and joined the process, according to peace officials, but the claim has been rejected by the armed outfit as “baseless”.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan calls for implementation of U.S.-Taliban deal amid spike in violence

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Pakistan on Thursday emphasized on the implementation of the agreement between the United States and the Taliban for Afghan peace, amid spike in violence in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan believes that the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement has provided a window of opportunity to the people of Afghanistan to work together for the ultimate aim of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We hope that the Peace Agreement is implemented in its entirety so that it leads to the next stage of Intra-Afghan negotiations,” Aisha Farooqui, spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said at her weekly briefing.

Farooqui was asked to offer comments about the Taliban rejection of calls for humanitarian ceasefire and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s order to security forces to end active defense position and resume offensives on militant groups including the Taliban.

She said there is no proposal under consideration by Pakistan to host intra-Afghan negotiations in Islamabad but said efforts are underway to help get the intra-Afghan negotiations initiated, which is the next logical step after the signing of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement.

“We hope that these efforts are successful at the earliest,” Farooqui said, adding Pakistan and Afghanistan share the ultimate objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has always supported a peaceful, democratic, united, stable and prosperous Afghanistan connected with the region. Both countries maintain regular contact on issues of mutual concern. Pakistan hopes that a lasting peace will be established in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.

The Taliban and the United States signed the agreement in Qatar in late February, which paves the way for withdrawal of all foreign troops.

The agreement faces challenges as the intra-Afghan dialogue that was scheduled to start on March 10 could not start due to differences over the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

(XINHUA)

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Afghan Taliban claims massive truck bomb blast in Paktia province

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The Afghan Taliban has claimed responsibility for a truck bombing that killed five civilians and injured 46 others, including several military personnel in Gardez city, capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province earlier on Thursday, a Taliban spokesman said.

The blast occurred in the morning rush hour after a Taliban suicide bomber tried to assault a provincial directorate of the Ministry of Defence but he was intercepted, according to a provincial source, who declined to be named.

The attacker detonated the truck bomb near the facility and affected nearby provincial military court and provincial finance and tax offices.

At least five army soldiers and several finance and tax officials were among the injured, he said.

The blast also caused massive destruction on several building, shops and vehicles, according to the source.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, tweeted that the blast left dozens of military personnel killed and injured.

It is the latest in a spate of such attacks when the Afghans are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

On Tuesday, 56 people were killed and nearly 120 wounded in two separate attacks in Kabul and eastern Nangarhar province.

Taliban said that they were not behind the attacks.

However, after the deadly attacks, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani ordered national security forces to “end active defence position’’ and resume offensives on militant groups including the Taliban.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Afghan Taliban claims massive truck bomb blast in E. province

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The Afghan Taliban has claimed a truck bombing that killed five civilians and injured 46 others, including several military personnel in Gardez city, capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province earlier on Thursday, a Taliban spokesman said.

The blast occurred in the morning rush hour after a Taliban suicide bomber tried to assault a provincial directorate of the Ministry of Defense but he was intercepted, according to a provincial source, who declined to be named.

The attacker detonated the truck bomb near the facility and affected nearby provincial military court and provincial finance and tax offices. At least five army soldiers and several finance and tax officials were among the injured, he said.

The blast also caused massive destruction, destroying several building, shops and vehicles, according to the source.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, tweeted that the blast left dozens of military personnel killed and injured.

It is the latest in a spate of such attacks when the Afghans are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

On Tuesday, 56 people were killed and nearly 120 wounded in two separate attacks in Kabul and eastern Nangarhar province. Taliban said that they were not behind the attacks.

However, after the deadly attacks, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani ordered national security forces to “end active defense position” and resume offensives on militant groups including the Taliban.

(XINHUA)

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1st LD Writethru: Taliban key commander among 3 killed in northern Afghanistan

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A Taliban key commander Ali Murad along with two of his bodyguards were killed in northern Jawzjan province on Monday, provincial government spokesman Abdul Marouf Azar said.

“A group of militants under Ali Murad was planning to target security checkpoints in Aqcha district Monday morning but the security forces in preemptive action struck the militants’ gathering, killing three rebels including infamous commander Ali Murad,” Azar told Xinhua.

Five more militants sustained injuries in the raid, the official further said.

The official also admitted that one security personnel was killed and another wounded during the crackdown.

Describing Ali Murad as a notorious commander, the official asserted that Murad’s death could deal a major blow to the Taliban militants in Jawzjan and its vicinity.

The security forces also arrested three Taliban militants in the northern Takhar province on Monday.

Taliban militants who have stepped up activities over the past couple of months haven’t commented.

(XINHUA)

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Taliban attack military centre in Afghanistan, casualties reported

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The Taliban, on Monday, claimed responsibility for an attack at a military centre in southern Helmand province in Afghanistan, where at least 150 members of the Afghan army and intelligence wing were stationed.

The bombing occurred on Sunday night, government officials and the Taliban said.

“Dozens of members, belonging to the enemy forces, have been killed and wounded in the attack,’’ Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, a spokesman for the hard-line Islamist group, said in a statement.

The Defence Ministry confirmed the blast and said one member of the army was injured.

The Afghan forces have, in the last two months, suffered heavy casualties across the country.

The violence poses an immediate threat to a fragile peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, signed in February, as the Afghan military is forced to fight an emboldened Taliban with less U.S. support.

An intelligence officer, who survived the attack at the military centre, told Reuters that militants detonated a truck bomb near the facility for National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Army forces.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the official said he helped pull out at least 18 bodies from the blast site on Sunday night.

In a separate incident, the Police in south eastern Paktika province said at least 20 people were injured when Taliban fighters threw a hand grenade into a mosque in Khayerkot district on Sunday evening.

The U.S. recorded an increase in Taliban attacks against Afghan forces in March after signing a peace deal with the insurgent group, a government watchdog office said in a report last week.

This is contrary to hopes that the peace deal would lead to less violence in the war-torn country.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Afghanistan’s human rights commission condemns roadside bomb, landmine attacks by Taliban

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The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has condemned recent roadside bomb and landmine attacks by Taliban militants that resulted in the deaths and injuries of scores of civilians.

Nine civilians were killed and 23 others wounded following a series of roadside bomb attacks and landmines conducted by Taliban militants on April 20 and 21 in Ghazni, Khost and Paktia provinces, said a statement from the commission posted on its website Monday.

“Such indiscriminate killings and attacks which are the main element of civilians’ death and injury, could be called as the symbol of war crimes and in contradiction to the international humanitarian rules and principles,” the statement said.

Militants in Afghanistan have been using home-made improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to make roadside bombs and landmines to target security forces, but the lethal weapons also inflict casualties on civilians.

The statement comes as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday announced that more than 500 civilians, including more than 150 children, were killed due to fighting in Afghanistan in the first three months of 2020.

A total of 760 civilians were also wounded in the conflict during the same period of time, the UNAMA said.

The UNAMA also urged the government and anti-government elements to do more to protect civilians from harm, especially in view of the looming threat posed to all Afghans by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UNAMA has attributed 55 percent of civilian casualties to the Taliban and other insurgent groups, 32 percent to security forces over the period while the rest 13 percent were caused by other reasons.
(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Over 2 dozen people killed in Afghanistan as Taliban refuses gov’t offer for ceasefire in Ramadan

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At least 28 Afghans including four civilians have been killed and more than two dozen more civilians injured over the past 24 hours in Afghanistan after the Taliban outfit refused government offer to observe ceasefire during Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month that begun on Friday.

In the latest gun battle which took place in Qala-e-Zal district of the northern Kunduz province at around noon Saturday and lasted for 30 minutes, four Taliban insurgents were killed and another wounded, local police officer Khal Mohommad said.

Similarly, the national army in a statement released Saturday reported killing 17 Taliban militants and wounding 13 others in Shahrak district of the western Ghor province.

Police have also claimed that the Taliban indiscriminate firing on residential areas claimed the life of one civilian in the eastern Ghazni and three others in the northern Faryab province over the past 24 hours.

According to police, 25 more civilians including 15 women and children in the said provinces have been injured since Friday.

The escalation in fighting has been seen since Friday, the first day of Ramadan, when Afghans have called upon warring sides to observe ceasefire.

Afghanistan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in his message on Thursday, the eve of Ramadan, called on Taliban outfit to observe ceasefire during Ramadan and stop killing Afghans during the holy month, but the armed group rejected the offer and vowed to keep on fighting.

Backing the appeal, Afghan religious scholars and prayer leaders in their sermons on Friday congregation described Ramadan as the month of peace, reconciliation and brotherhood, urging the Taliban group to halt hostilities and join the peace process to end the war in the country.
(XINHUA)

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2 Taliban commanders among 17 killed in W. Afghanistan

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Security forces backed by fighting planes have killed 17 militants including two commanders and wounded 13 others in Shahrak district of Afghanistan’s western Ghor province, said an army statement release Saturday.
(XINHUA)

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