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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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At Least 17 Killed In Afghan Attacks

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
December 21, 2014

Officials say at least 17 people, including women and children, have been killed in separate attacks across Afghanistan.

Seven policemen were killed and five others injured in a northern province after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents late on December 20.

Abdul Mannan Raoufi, a high-ranking police official in Jawzjan Province, said a group of insurgents attacked an outpost in the remote Qoshteppa district.

Raoufi said police reinforcements were sent to the location and a gunbattle followed in which five insurgents died.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Separately, police in northern Kunduz Province said on December 21 they were searching for at least four Tajik citizens allegedly kidnapped by the Taliban.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a provincial police spokesman, said the incident took place in a forest-covered area in the Imam Saheb district, which is under Taliban control.

He said the Tajik nationals "had mistakenly entered Afghan soil."

At least seven civilians, including two children, were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle in eastern Afghanistan late on December 20.

"The pickup truck with women and children onboard was blown up" in Nari district of Kunar Province, district police chief Muhammad Yusuf was quoted as saying.

Elsewhere in Kunar, at least three civilians were killed as a battle has been raging between insurgents and government forces for more than a week, said Abdul Ghani Musamem, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Musamem said around 28 insurgents were killed in the fighting.

Meanwhile in Kabul, officials said Afghan journalist Zubair Hatami died in hospital on December 21 from wounds sustained during a suicide attack on a French cultural center earlier this month.

Hatami, 22, worked as a cameraman with the privately run Mitra Television.

The Taliban had claimed responsibility for that attack, which also killed a German aid worker and wounded some 20 other people.

A UN report released on December 20 said civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high this year, with 3,188 civilians killed and 6,429 injured by the end of November.

The Taliban on December 21 denounced the report as "biased and unfounded."

The militant group accused UN investigators of intentionally skewing statistics to blame the Taliban.

The UN report said insurgents were responsible for about 75 percent of civilians killed in Afghanistan.

The United Nations called on all sides of the war to work to limit civilian deaths and injuries.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa, and khaama.com


Gen. Raziq orders Afghan forces to target insurgents in Pakistan

Khaama Press / Decembe 21, 2014

The provincial police chief of southern Kandahar province Gen. Abdul Raziq has ordered the Afghan national security forces to target the insurgents on the other side of Durand Line.

Gen. Raziq said on Sunday that the Afghan security forces have been ordered to retaliate against any the militants attack from the Pakistani soil.

He was speaking to reporters upon his arrival from Shorabak area, located near the Durand Line.

According to Gen. Raziq, a number of the militants safe havens were destroyed on the other side of Durand Line by the Afghan security forces.

Gen. Raziq said the militants are having sanctuaries near the Pakistani security forces check points from where they launch attacks on the Afghan security forces.

He said the Afghan security forces used heavy weapons to target the assailant militants who were around 300 meters away from the zero point along the Durand Line.

Gen. Raziq also called on the relevant government insistutions, including the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to force Pakistan through diplomatic channels in a bid to prevent such violations in the future.

He warned that the Afghan security forces will remain on high alert to respond to any threats by the insurgents.

Gen. Raziq is one of the prominent security officials who is famous by his hard line stance against the militant groups. He has ordered the Afghan security forces to execute the Taliban prisoners as soon as they are captured during the military operations.


Taliban join peace process in Badakhshan

Khaama Press / December 21, 2014

Officials of northeastern Badakhshan province say a group of 20 insurgents who were actively involved in anti-government activities as well as targeting foreigners joined peace process through the National Solidarity Program.

Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for Badakhan police say these guys were mainly operating in the Wardoj district but now they promised to live in peace and continue ordinary life.

Ahmadzai added they also handed over their weapons to the government representatives and reunited with the community after spending long time in the mountains.

Badakhshan was comparatively one of the safe provinces in Afghanistan but recently insecurity is in some parts of the province.


Top Taliban intelligence official among 4 released from Guantanamo

Khaama Press / December 21, 2014

A top intelligence official of the Taliban militants group in Afghanistan was among the 4 inmates released from Guantanamo.

The top Taliban leader, Mohammad Zahir, was also a leading weapons supplier who was arrested suspicion of possessing weapons including Stiner missiles and uranium.

“Detainee was arrested on suspicion of possessing weapons including Stinger missiles and uranium, which detainee’s recovered documents indicate was intended for use in a nuclear device,” according to Zahir’s threat assessment obtained form his file by Telegraph.

Zahir was released from the detention facility along with three other inmates, including Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani.

According to US defense officials, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force which considers security issues and other factors in intensive reviews of possible releases, had approved for the transfer of detainees to Afghanistan.

According to the US officials, the release of the four inmates from Guantanamo was the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009.

The release of the Afghan prisoners comes as the US President Barack Obama tries to reduce the number of those held at Guantanamo and works toward his goal of closing the detention center.

Obama promised to shut the internationally condemned prison when he took office nearly six years ago.


Romania To Send 450 More Troops To Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
December 21, 2014

Outgoing President Traian Basescu says Romania has committed an extra 450 troops to Afghanistan starting next year in addition to the previously announced 200 military instructors and trainers.

Basescu said December 20 that Romania's Supreme Council of National Defense has approved the deployment of additional soldiers, who will be tasked with guarding the Kandahar airport and military base in southern Afghanistan.

Romania had initially committed some 200 troops to participate in the "Resolute Support" mission which will train Afghan forces beyond 2014.

Basescu, speaking in Bucharest at his final news conference before leaving office on December 21, said the decision was made after a request from Romania's allies.

The 13-year NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ends this month, but some 12,500 foreign soldiers -- mostly from the United States -- will remain in the country in 2015 in a supporting role.

At its peak in 2010, Romania's contingent in Afghanistan numbered 1,600 troops. Romania lost 76 soldiers in Afghanistan, including 20 killed in action.


Foreign troops worsened Afghanistan’s crisis: Academic

Press TV / December 21, 2014

The presence of US-led troops in Afghanistan has not brought stability to and has only worsened the crisis in the war-torn country, says an academic, Press TV reports.

Mohammad Hassan Khani, a professor at Imam Sadiq (PBUH) University, said in an interview with Press TV that “wherever foreign troops, especially American troops, have been, it has been a source of terrorism and instability.”

“And in Afghanistan itself, foreign presence did not lead to stability and did not bring even the drug dealing to a halt. So, in every sense, it has somehow worsened the problem,” he said.

Khani added that “the presence of foreign troops in any country would provoke the nationalistic tendencies - in all countries, including Afghanistan. So it does not solve the problem. It could be part of the problem.”

The academic also noted that the presence of foreign forces will delay the strengthening of the Afghan troops themselves.

Khani said that “at the end of the day it would be the Afghan army relying on the help of the neighboring countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, to bring peace and stability to this volatile country in particular and the whole region in general.”

Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks after Kabul signed the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US, which allows more US troops to remain in Afghanistan and grants them immunity from prosecution.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.


Germany offers aid for Afghan refugees in Iran: UN

Press TV / December 21, 2014

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iran says Germany has offered a contribution of over $600,000 in aid for educating the Afghan refugees in Iran.

Thanking the Islamic Republic for having been hosting Afghan refugees for decades, German Ambassador to Tehran Michael von Ungern-Sternberg acknowledged the difficult task of accommodating hundreds of thousands of the refugees while announcing his government’s financial contribution to assist Tehran in improving the conditions of the immigrants.

“Due to various crises in the region, Iran has been hosting a considerable refugee population for over 30 years now. Germany is well aware of the immense challenges arising out of this situation,” said Ambassador Ungern-Sternberg, as cited in a press release by the UNHCR’s Tehran office on Sunday.

“We therefore want to give our contribution to improve living conditions of refugees while assisting the Government of Iran in its difficult task and we are convinced that the solution to the refugee problem requires a regional approach,” the German ambassador added.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR’s Representative in Iran Sivanka Dhanapala thanked the German government for its contribution and said, “Increasing knowledge through education is a sure way of addressing solutions for any difficulty we face in our lifetime.”

According to the UNHCR’s press release, the contribution will enable more than 330,000 Afghan refugee students currently studying in Iranian schools “in becoming self-reliant empowered individuals who will themselves one day have a share in rebuilding Afghanistan.”


Muslims marking passing anniversary of Islam Prophet

Press TV / December 21, 2014

Millions of Muslims across the world are holding special ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the passing of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him).

The 28th day of the month of Safar (the second month in the lunar calendar) marks the demise of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The day also marks the martyrdom of the holy prophet’s grandson Imam Hassan (PBUH), the second revered Shia imam.

Nationwide mourning ceremonies are also being held to mark the tragic events in Iran on Sunday.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was born in about 570 AD in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca. He was granted to be the final prophet by God at the age of 40. He passed away at the age of 63 after 23 years of disseminating the message of Islam.

The martyrdom anniversary of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Imam of Shias, who was martyred on the last day of the month of Safar, will be held in Iran on December 23.

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