Yesterday's Afghan News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dozens Of Militants Killed In
Operation To Free Kidnapped Afghans

By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
March 5, 2015

Afghan security officials said an operation aimed at freeing a group of kidnapped civilians in southern Afghanistan was continuing after a battle on March 4 killed dozens of militants but failed to secure the hostages' release.

Masked gunmen seized about 30 passengers from two buses in the southern province of Zabul last month as they were traveling late at night toward Kabul on Afghanistan's main ring-road highway.

Most of the kidnapped passengers were members of the ethnic Hazara minority, a group that was persecuted by the mainly Pashtun Taliban regime.

Local officials in Zabul Province say about 50 militants were killed when Afghan security forces launched an operation to free the hostages.

Afghan National Army General Abdul Hameed said 21 of those killed were "foreign fighters" without specifying their nationality.

But Afghanistan's Deputy Vice President Sarwar Danish said more than 100 militants were killed in an operation launched after negotiations on freeing the group broke down.

Afghanistan's Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping.

With reporting by Reuters

Afghan conflicts leave 33 dead within 24 hours

KABUL, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Militancy and conflicts elsewhere in the conflict-hit Afghanistan have claimed 33 lives over the past 24 hour, official sources said Thursday.

In the latest violent happening, according to a local official, four people had been killed and two others injured as clash erupted between two illegal armed groups in Khanabad district of the northern Kunduz province with Kunduz city as its capital 250 km north of national capital Kabul on Thursday.

"The clash flared up between two illegal armed groups in Khanabad district, Kunduz province today morning and lasted for a while during which four persons were killed and two others injured from both sides," district governor Hayatullah Amiril told Xinhua.

Investigation has been initiated into the case to determine the reason for the conflict, he added.

Scores of illegal armed groups are active in different parts of the conflict-ridden Afghanistan and in many cases they create law and order problems.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior in a statement released here today, reported killing 29 militants across the country over the past 24 hours.

Afghan police backed by the army and National Directorate for Security (NDS) or the country's intelligence agency have killed 29 militants across the country over the past 24 hours, the statement released here Thursday said.

"Units of national police in conjunction with army and NDS have conducted series of operations in Nangarhar, Takhar, Saripul, Balkh, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Wardak, Logar, Ghazni, Paktia and Helmand provinces over the past 24 hours during which 29 armed insurgents have been killed, 18 others injured and three more captured," the statement contended.

However, the statement didn't disclose if there were casualties on security forces.

Taliban militants fighting the government are yet to make comment.

Gun battle in northern Afghan province leaves 4 dead

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Four people were killed and two others injured as clash erupted between two illegal armed groups in the northern Kunduz province with Kunduz city as its capital 250 km north of Kabul on Thursday, a local official said.

"The clash flared up between two illegal armed groups in Khanabad district today morning and lasted for a while during which four persons were killed and two others injured from both sides," district governor Hayatullah Amiril told Xinhua.

Investigation has been initiated into the case to determine the reason for the conflict, he added.

Scores of illegal armed groups are active in different parts of the conflict-ridden Afghanistan and in many cases they create law and order problems.

Central Asians Reported Among
Militants Killed In Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
March 5, 2015

Afghan officials say Russian-speaking Central Asians were among dozens of militants killed in southern Afghanistan on March 4.

Local officials in Zabul Province say the militants were killed when Afghan security forces launched an operation to free some 30 hostages kidnapped by masked gunmen in the province of Zabul last month.

Afghan National Army General Abdul-Hameed Hameed said 21 of those killed were "foreign fighters," many of whom were Kyrgyz. One woman, also described as a Kyrgyz, was among the dead. Another female militant, also reported by Hammed as Kyrgyz, was hospitalized.

Meanwhile, police officials in Zabul say the majority of the killed foreign fighters, as well as the wounded woman, were Kazakh.

Officials at Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL that they had no information on the report and could not comment the Afghan officials' statement, adding that the ministry would officially ask Afghan authorities to clarify the situation.

U.S. State Department To Honor
International Women Of Courage

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
March 5, 2015

The United States will present 10 women from around the world with the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the ceremony at the State Department in Washington on March 5..

Since 2007, the annual award has recognized women who have demonstrated "exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk."

This year’s recipients include Captain Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing Afghan Air Force pilot, Arbana Xharra, editor-in-chief of Kosovo’s Zeri newspaper, and Pakistani women’s rights advocate Tabassum Adnan.

The State Department says Rahmani remains determined to continue her career despite “threats from the Taliban and from members of her extended family, who disapproved of her career and ambition.”

It says that Xharra’s reporting “contributes to the strengthening of Kosovo’s nascent democracy” and that Adnan, founder of the nongovernmental organization Khwendo Jirga (Sister’s Council), continues to address women’s issues such as honor killings and acid attacks despite numerous threats.

Women participation in National Unity
Government will increase: President Ghani

Khaama Press / March 5, 2015

President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that women participation in the National Unity Government will increase based on their qualification.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani while talking to a celebration of International Women Day in Kabul promised that he will bring equality in regards to the women rights.

He said that women should be confident that the assignments in his government will be based on qualification not relationship.

He added that based on their qualification, women would be assigned in key government posts as deputies, would work in embassies and provincial offices.

President Ghani also said that with the assistance of the government of Turkey, a girls’ university will be built and also a hospital for destitute women.

He pointed to some of the appointments that have taken place based on personal relationship and said that a list of those assignments was asked to be prepared in order to take action against it.

In the ceremony organized in Kabul to celebrate the International Women Day, Rola Ghani, Afghanistan’s 1st lady said that women need to be respected at homes as well as outside.

She added that a difference can be seen in women life in the city and the villages but this need to be made equal.

Ahead of Women’s Day, Afghan
President calls for ‘sustainable transformation’


KABUL, 5 March 2015 – The Afghan Government reiterated its commitment today to strengthen and build upon the women’s rights achievements made during the past 13 years.

“We want to create sustainable transformations for women in society,” said the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, in a speech in Kabul at a ceremony held to commemorate International Women’s Day.

In the event, organized by the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs in collaboration the United Nations, President Ghani said the Afghan Government is committed to bringing fundamental and sustainable change for Afghan women. He said the Afghan Constitution gives due rights to women. The Government, he said, will fulfil its commitments concerning women’s rights by ensuring full implementation of the constitution.

The President outlined several points in his administration’s general approach to supporting women’s socioeconomic development in the years ahead, including with a new women’s university that will be built in Kabul with the assistance of the Government of Turkey.

“I have asked that all the foreign-funded projects being implemented in Afghanistan go through a comprehensive assessment,” he said. “In the coming weeks, all the projects will be re-categorized on the basis of our priorities, and women’s issues will be given special consideration in each project.”

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on 8 March around the world with the aim of recognizing the challenges women face and focusing greater attention on women’s rights. The theme of this year’s Women’s Day is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity.”

Men protested wearing “Burqas” in Kabul

Khaama Press / March 5, 2015

A number of the civil society activists on Thursday walked in Kabul city wearing “Burqas” to yield for women rights.

They went to the Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan and shouted slogans supporting women’s rights.

The protest started from Pul-i-Surkh area of Kabul city and ended after reaching the Human Rights Commission.

The protest was named as “Men in Burqas” .

Burqa wearing protesters said that they are not against the Burqas but they wanted to experience the problems or harassment women face.

They asked authorities to solve the problems of the women, especially those in “Burqas”.

The march was conducted by civil society activists as the International Women Day which is celebrated every year on 8th March is looming.

International Women Day bears a slogan of respect, gender equality, appreciation and love towards women.

During Taliban regime women were obliged to wear “Burqas” when going out but after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 there is no restriction from government on women to wear specific veil.

They can wear Burqas, Hijabs (Veils) or walk in normal clothes but a rise in violence against women can be seen after the fall the Taliban regime.

Afghan Refugees Flock Home Amid
Claims Of Intimidation, Harassment

By Frud Bezhan
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
March 4, 2015

Afghan refugees are again on the run -- this time from the safe haven they sought in Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have returned across the border in recent months, with many claiming to have been beaten by police, detained, and evicted from their homes in Pakistan.

For years, Islamabad pushed Afghan refugees to return to their homeland, with little success. But that was before the massacre of more than 150 people, the vast majority of them students, at a Peshawar school in December.

Many returning refugees say they have been made scapegoats for the attack, which was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, a group Islamabad has said operates out of Afghanistan.

Amid claims that authorities coerced them to leave, statistics show there has been a marked rise in returning refugees in the wake of the attack. The International Organization for Migration says that in the following month more than 33,000 undocumented Afghan refugees returned to Afghanistan -- double the number for all of 2014.

One of them is Agha Khan, an Afghan refugee who had lived in Pakistan ever since civil war erupted in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. Khan, now in Kabul, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that many refugees are fleeing Pakistan for fear of being detained by police and intelligence officers.

"In the past two months, 63 Afghan refugees I knew were detained by the Pakistanis for no reason," says Khan, who used to reside in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, where the majority of Afghan refugees live. "Nobody knows where they are now."

Babar Baluch, a spokesman for the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, said the organization has received news that registered Afghan refugees have been rounded up during police crackdowns following the Peshawar attack. He said the UNHCR has expressed its concerns to the Pakistani government and received assurances that no refugees will be forced to repatriate.

The United Nations says there are around 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, 1 million of them unregistered, combining to make up the second-largest refugee population in the world. Pakistan has been home to millions of Afghans for the past three decades and more than 3.8 million refugees have returned home, according to the UNHCR.

Human Rights Watch said in late February that the Pakistani government had an obligation to protect all Afghans in the country, including those not registered as refugees, from harassment and other abuses.

"Pakistani officials should not be scapegoating Afghans because of the Taliban's atrocities in Peshawar," said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "It is inhumane, not to mention unlawful, to return Afghans to places they may face harm and not protect them from harassment and abuse."

"Pakistan's government is tarnishing the country's well-deserved reputation for hospitality toward refugees by tolerating the punitive and potentially unlawful coercive repatriation of Afghan refugees," added Kine. "The government needs to defend the rights of its Afghan population and ensure that local authorities aren't carrying out vindictive reprisals for an atrocity the Afghan refugees bear no responsibility for."

Abdul Wali, an Afghan refugee in Islamabad, says refugees have been targeted even if they have legal status in the country.

"Pakistani police told me that every officer has been ordered to detain 50 Afghan refugees, regardless of whether they have refugee status or not," he told Radio Free Afghanistan.

Police and intelligence agents have raided several refugee camps -- which authorities say harbor Taliban militants -- since the Peshawar school attack.

Pakistan has rejected the idea that it is expelling Afghan refugees from the country. But at least one Pakistani official indicated there was an official effort to return refugees to Afghanistan. Tasnim Aslam Khan, spokeswoman for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during a recent news conference that all registered refugees would leave by the end of the year.

"We would like to see them return to their country in dignity and on a voluntary basis," said Khan, who added that areas with large populations of unregistered Afghan refugees were being used as "terrorist hideouts, and we have to take action."

An official from Pakistan's Ministry of States and Frontier Regions indicated that unregistered refugees would be forcibly sent back immediately.

"The registered refugees can return by the end of this year," the unidentified official was quoted by the German news agency dpa as saying. "But the unregistered are illegal aliens and have no right to stay."

In the Hangu district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, authorities on February 11 announced that all registered Afghan refugees were required to move to a government-supervised camp and that it would deport any undocumented Afghan refugees.

Rafiullah Baydar, spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said the expulsion of Afghan refugees would be against international law. He added that Afghan refugees should not suffer for the action of Pakistani militants.

International right groups are worried that Afghanistan is not equipped to handle such a large influx of refugees.

Abdul Jalil, a refugee in Peshawar, indicates they might not have a choice. He says conditions are getting so bad that he and his family will have to leave Pakistan soon.

"We are having a lot of problems," he says. "Police took my uncle away. We are asking [Afghan President] Ashraf Ghani to think about our plight and make the conditions right for our return."

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

UNAMA distributes legal books to judicial officials


KUNDUZ, 5 March 2015 – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) this week distributed copies of the Afghan Constitution and hundreds of books on Afghan law to judicial officials of the Imam Saheb district in the north-eastern Afghan province of Kunduz.

The books are designed to be used for carrying out day-to-day judicial and other legal work, especially in the remote districts of the country where access to legal documents is limited. The books handed out by UNAMA officials cover police work, civil law, criminal procedure, and professional information for courts and other criminal justice mechanisms.

UNAMA’s Rule of Law personnel began distributing these books, published by the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), to Afghan officials after EUPOL scaled back its activities in Afghanistan last year. The Kunduz office of UNAMA received more than 1,300 volumes of EUPOL-provided books. Half of them have already been distributed in a programme scheduled to be completed in May.

Zahir Aghbar appointed as CEO’s Security Advisor

Khaama Press / March 5, 2015

Zahir Aghbar has been appointed as the Security Advisor for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah.

Office of the chief executive officer has issued a statement stating that based on a decree Mr. Raghbar was from now on the security advisor for the chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah.

Mr. Raghbar was one of the team members of Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign during the presidential election.

Mr. Raghbar was chief of the Olympic committee of Afghanistan during the government of Mr. Hamid Karzai.

As per the reports, the leaders and assistants of the national unity government of Afghanistan have up to 70 advisors and the number is looking to be going up.

Australia thrash Afghanistan in
record-breaking ICC World Cup win

MELBOURNE, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Australia carted the highest ever ICC World Cup total to smash Afghanistan by a record-breaking 275 runs in Western Australia on Thursday.

The hosts made 6/417 from their 50 overs, surpassing India's 413 made against Bermuda in 2007, before dismissing Afghanistan for just 142 to rebound from last Saturday's demoralizing defeat against New Zealand in style.

That meant Australia also beat India and South Africa's record for the largest margin of victory in the prestigious tournament's history, previously set at 257 runs against Bermuda and the West Indies respectively.

Opener Dave Warner provided the platform for Australia's emphatic win, hitting his highest ever ODI score of 178 from 133 deliveries, while Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell also feasted on some wayward bowling.

With the ball, Australia was in constant command, as Mitchell Johnson claimed four wickets to leave their inexperienced opponents reeling.

Afghanistan's decision to field first having won the toss appeared an inspired one when Dawlat Zadran found the edge of Aaron Finch on 5. But it brought Warner and Smith together at the crease and they wouldn't be so forgiving.

Surviving the early bounce on a fast WACA pitch, the pair soon had the run-rate ticking over. While Warner was the aggressor in an Australian record 260-run stand, Smith anchored down at the other end.

If Afghanistan thought Warner's first century was brutal, coming from just 92 deliveries with 11 boundaries, they were in for a nasty surprise.

He then launched a further five over the fence on his way to 178, before eventually skying a pull shot from Shapoor Zadran to end a thrilling innings.

Smith couldn't join Warner in making a century, holing out five runs short on 95, as Australia lost two wickets in just six overs. But Maxwell would ensure the momentum didn't slip away.

With a mix of power and inventiveness, the mercurial all-rounder carted 88 from only 39 balls in a knock that included the World Cup's third-fastest half-century.

Afghanistan simply had no answers and, despite taking three wickets from the final four overs, was unable to prevent Australia from notching the World Cup's highest ever team score, breaking the previous record by four runs.

In reply, Afghanistan was gallant, throwing their bat around early in an attempt to make a decent fist of the run chase. However, ultimately, the target set never appeared a realistic ambition.

Instead, Johnson ripped through the top-order, claiming 4/22 from 7.3 overs. Included in that haul was a terrific diving catch from Finch at first slip to remove Nawroz Mangal, who made an entertaining 33 from 35 deliveries.

Michael Clarke, who is returning from a series of long-term hamstring and back injuries, demoted himself down the order during Australia's innings, not spending any time in the middle.

But the captain did bowl five overs in order to gain match fitness, claiming the wicket of Samiullah Shenwari in the process.

Starc (2/18 from 6 overs) and Hazlewood (2/25 from 8 overs) also took multiple wickets, as Australia cleaned up the Afghani tail to dismiss their opponents 275 runs short of the target for just 142 and get their campaign back on track with an historic win.

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