Today's Afghan News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Explosion On Outskirts Of Kabul

Acting Interior Minister General Mohammad Ayub Salangi

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

January 25, 2015

Afghan police said a truck has exploded on the outskirts of Kabul and the country's acting interior minister said at least two people were wounded in the blast.

The head of Kabul police criminal investigation division Farid Afzeli said on January 25 that the truck was trying to enter Kabul "but was identified by police who prevented it from coming into the city."

Farid said the truck exploded near a gas station but he did not know about any casualties.

Acting Interior Minister General Mohammad Ayub Salangi said on his Twitter account that two people were wounded in the explosion and added that the blast occurred near the Kabul military airport.

NATO confirmed the explosion took place just before 6 a.m. local time.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

Suicide car bomb, conflict claim 6 lives in Afghanistan

KABUL, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The violent incidents in the shape of suicide attack and conflict once again claimed the lives of people in the conflict-ridden Afghanistan on Sunday, officials said.

In a suicide car bomb which rocked the capital city Kabul Sunday morning the bomber was killed and two passersby injured.

It was a truck bomb, according to police.

"A truck packed with explosive object was detonated along ring road in Qasaba locality at 05:45 a.m. local time today and the explosion injured slightly two civilian passersby," the Kabul police said in a statement released here.

The attacker was killed on the spot and the truck was destroyed, the statement said, adding the explosive device was planted under the fruit crates.

The potential target of the attacker remained unknown. However, witnesses said the target might have been the nearby front gate of the military airport, situated in north edge of Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Meantime, the Taliban insurgent group fighting the government to regain power has claimed of responsibility for the attack.

Moreover, three police and two armed insurgents were killed as clash erupted in Qala-e-Zal district of Kunduz province with Kunduz city as its capital, 250 km north of Kabul on Sunday, district police chief Abdul Manan said.

"A number of armed Taliban militants stormed a checkpoint of local police in Zalamabad village, Qala-e-Zal district Sunday morning and police returned fire. The fire exchange lasted for a while during which three local police personnel and two Taliban insurgents had been killed," Manan told Xinhua.

Local police is community police deployed in rural areas to ensure security for the villagers.

Meantime, Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit in contact with media confirmed the clash, insisting five local police personnel had been killed, a claim rebuffed by police office Manan as baseless.

35 Militants Killed in Pakistani Air Strikes

VOA News / January 25, 2015

The Pakistan military says it has bombed suspected militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal territory, killing at least 35 militants.

The army said the air strikes Sunday focused on the Datta Khail area near the Afghan border. Foreign fighters are said to be among those killed.

Pakistan's military has launched a major counter-terrorism offensive in the Waziristan region since June. Officials said the attacks have killed around 2,000 suspected militants. The military said it has lost more than 200 soldiers in the fighting.

U.S. officials have said the Waziristan district was where al-Qaida and its allied Haqqani Network have established bases.

Washington acknowledged the Pakistani offensive has damaged the terrorist infrastructure, but has not yet said it believes the threat from the Pakistani side of the border is over.

Sunday's air strikes come as U.S. President Barack Obama is visiting neighboring India.

Pakistan plunges into darkness after militant attack

Press TV / January 25, 2015

Around 80 percent of Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, has fallen into darkness after a key power transmission line broke down in the aftermath of an apparent militant attack on the facility.

The power failure in Pakistan began after midnight when a transmission line connecting a privately-run power plant to the national grid was damaged in an explosion blamed on militants operating in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan.

"The fault in the system was caused by a main transmission line being blown up in Balochistan," Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali said.

Ali apologized for the outage and held gunmen in Nasirabad district accountable for the inconvenience.

The international airport in the eastern city of Lahore, situated 275 kilometers (170 miles) southeast of Islamabad, also suffered a blackout, though flights were not affected.

A spokesman for the National Power Construction Corporation Ltd. said electricity was restored across the country hours later and all power grids were back online, except for two nuclear power plants, which would be fully operational by the end of Sunday.

Pakistan is battling chronic electricity shortage, which is inflaming public anger and stifling industrial output, as power outages can last eight to 10 hours a day in cities, with much more frequent cuts in rural areas.

Pakistan’s electricity is generated, transmitted, distributed, and sold by two vertically integrated public sector utilities -- Water and Power Development Authority, responsible for all of Pakistan except Karachi, and the Karachi Electric Supply Corp -- along with roughly 20 independent power producers. None have been able to develop substantive solutions to the country’s ongoing power crisis.

Feature: Harsh winter adds to suffering of poor Afghans

KABUL, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- For the impoverished people in this Afghan capital city, the cold winter has added to their suffering, forcing some of them to beg in the streets.

"I have no wood, no fuel and no coal to keep me and my family warm," an elderly Afghan woman, who asked not to identified, said while begging from passersby.

In the conservative Afghanistan where traditions are deeply rooted, women mostly prefer not to disclose their names to strangers except to close relatives.

The woman, wrapped in the traditional burqa or veil, said that the cold weather and snowfall had left her with no choice but to beg although it is a shameful act.

Since Friday, the temperature dropped to below zero in some parts of Kabul and adjoining areas. Snowfall and the rains have exacerbated the suffering of the poor city residents, most of them living in shanties with thin roofs and walls.

The woman, who has three children and without a husband, said that she has to beg from total strangers just to feed her children and keep them warm during the cold season.

The foreign-aid-dependent Afghanistan is among the poorest countries in the world.

Addressing the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of Parliament last Tuesday as he introduced the minister-nominees for confirmation, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani admitted that 36 percent of Afghans still live under the poverty line.

President Ghani vowed to alleviate poverty and lift the living conditions of the Afghan people by improving the economy, inviting foreign investors in order to create jobs.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans, particularly the internally displaced people or those without permanent homes, have left their houses to safer places due to the continuing fighting between government security forces and the Taliban militants.

During the fighting, innocent civilians, including women and children, are often caught in the crossfire.

The unity government headed by President Ghani is hard-pressed to look for solutions to the problems faced by the displaced people, especially those who are forced to beg or sleep in sidewalks and vacant spaces.

Most of these vagrant people and those who live in slum areas and makeshift camps lost their breadwinners in the conflict and are dependent on assistance provided by government, international aid agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs).

"The meager foodstuff or few blankets provided by some aid agencies, businessmen or government during winter are not the solution of our problems. We want the government to provide houses and jobs for us," Ahmad Fawad, 42, also a beggar, said.

Fawad, who left his home in Sangin District of the province of Helmand due to war last year and has since settled in Charahi Qambar locality in western edge of Kabul city, said he used to work as a day laborer last month but the snowfall has reduced his income to zero.

"I had worked and used to have a hand-to-mouth existence before the snowfall but the harsh winter left me jobless and forced me to beg as the only way to survive," Fawad said.

Beggars can be found not just in busy streets in the capital but so in Murad Khani, an ancient neighborhood just a few hundred yards away from Arg or Presidential Palace.

Government will return Afghan
refugees in shortest time: Mosazai

Khaama Press / January 25, 2015

Janan Mosazai, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan said on Saturday that the national unity government of Afghanistan was taking measures for the return of 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees from Pakistan in the shortest possible time.

“There is a three-way agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and all three signatories agree on voluntary, dignified and gradual return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan,” Ambassador Mosazai told media.

Janan said that Afghanistan was ‘incomplete in its essence’ without the homecoming of its people, who had to leave the country decades ago because of security conditions.

He said the Afghan government had welcomed five million of its refugees from Pakistan and Iran since the fall of Taliban, which he described as the ‘largest return of refugees to their homeland in history’.

“Refugees’ arrival has slowed down for some time, but this issue is our key priority on which we fully focus. The fabric of the Afghan society is not complete without our refugee brothers and sisters. We are improving our environment to encourage their return so that they see no uncertain future and no shortage of basic amenities,” said Mosazai.

Ambassador said at present 1.6m registered Afghan refugees were residing in Pakistan, most of whom lived in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while their number in Sindh was 65,000.

He, however, was not sure about the number of unregistered Afghan refugees, which he guessed might be between 400,000 and one million.

New cabinet members continue to present
their agendas at the House of Representatives

Khaama Press / January 25, 2015

On Sunday four new cabinet members presented their agendas at the House of Representatives.

Sayed Hussain Ulumi Balkhi nominee for Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Sardar Mohammad Rahman Ughlu for Ministry of Economy, Sardar Mohammad Rahimi nominee for Ministry of Trade and Industry and Khatera Afghan nominee for Ministry of Higher Education were the four nominees who presented their agendas at the House of Representatives Sunday on the fourth session.

Each of them explained the opportunities in the country and emphasized that their plans will make improvements.

Before them ten other new cabinet nominees had presented their agendas at the sessions of the House of Representatives or Walesi Jirga.

In the mean time President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has announced that he will introduce new nominees to the House of Representatives for confidence vote after some of the nominee ministers were rejected by the House for having dual citizenship.

Nazifullah Salarzai, spokesman for Presidential palace says President Ghani respects decisions made by the House of Representatives.

He said President Ghani will introduce replacement nominees to the House for confidence vote.

House of Representatives says they will not consider President Ghani’s cabinet members for a confident vote if they have dual citizenship.

Iran says more foreigners now trading in TSE

Press TV / January 24, 2015

Iran said on Saturday that it is witnessing a surge in the number of foreign investors who are entering the country’s capital market.

Hamed Soltaninejad, the CEO of the Central Securities Depository Company of Iran (CSDI), told reporters that at least 27 new foreign investors have received authorization to trade in Tehran’s Stock Exchange (TSE) over the past two months alone.

Soltaninejad said the investors have been mainly from Germany, Britain, Syria, and China, adding that there have also been 16 investors from Afghanistan.

He said a total of 97 investors from over a dozen countries – including seven from Europe, 11 from Asia, and one from Africa - have received TSE trade licenses since March 2014.

Soltaninejad added that the list of foreign investors include 25 Iranians who are living abroad.

He further said that so far 313 foreign investors have joined Iran’s capital market shareholders since 1994.

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