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TOLOnews 10pm News 08 February 2016

TOLO News - 5 hours 22 min ago

Top news in this Bulletin:

Embattled Afghan armed forces have conducted a major military operation against Taliban insurgents in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, eliminating a number of insurgents in the process and breaking their four day siege on an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in the volatile region in northern Afghanistan.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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Kabul city has been without power for 13 days - almost two weeks that Afghan security forces have been trying to push back Taliban militants from the area where they blew up a power pylon.

PEOPLE'S VOICE: Logar Residents Share Their Challenges

TOLO News - 5 hours 50 min ago

Residents of central Logar province speak out about their challenges – from insecurity to corruption, unemployment and other problems. They also speak about the performance of their representatives in Parliament.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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In this episode of the program, host Zabi Sadat discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Noorullah Stanikzai, a member of civil society
• Mohammad Akram Hakimi, lecturer
• Mohammad Musa Mahmudi, civil society activist
• Nafisa Baha, member of the developing council

 

15 Insurgents Killed in Helmand In Joint Air Strike

TOLO News - 6 hours 23 min ago

At least 15 Taliban insurgents were killed in a joint Afghan and foreign troops air strike in southern Helmand province on Monday night, the 201 Maiwand Military Corp said in a statement.

In addition, ten other insurgents were injured.

The air strike took place in Nad Ali and Greshk districts of the province in which a vehicle of the insurgents was also destroyed, the statement said.

There were no civilian casualties in the air strike, according to the statement.

This comes after eight insurgents were killed in an Afghan security forces air strike in the province on Sunday night.

The air strike took pace in Nad Ali district of the province after the Afghan Air Force carried out the attack on insurgents which resulted in the death of eight including the group's leader.

Recently, the Afghan and foreign troops increased their air strikes in the province as insurgents upped attacks against security forces.

Greek Coast Guard Rescues Dozens Of Refugees Off Lesbos

TOLO News - 7 hours 58 min ago

Waving, cheering and letting out sighs of relief, dozens of refugees were rescued from the Aegean Sea off the coast of Lesbos island in Greece on Monday.

The Greek coast guard came across several rubber dinghies crammed with migrants, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, and towed them to safety aboard the nearby coast guard vessel, Reuters reported.

After being pulled on board the ship one by one, the migrants staggered, exhausted and relieved, to the boat's rear, where they huddled alongside strangers and waited quietly to be transported to the shore.

Women cradled their babies and young girls consoled their crying siblings as the hardest and most dangerous part of their journey had ended.

Mustafa, a 24-year-old mathematics student from Syria, called on Europeans to open their borders for the Syrian people fleeing war atrocities.

"Open to people, because the people have children and want peace. And all people want to stop war in Syria because many people in Syria, your house is very finished. Don't have house, don't have money, don't have work," Mustafa said.

"And stop war and open because if the war in Syria is enough all people Syrian will be back in Syria and building Syria and the first," he added, longing for the time that refugees would be able to return to their country.

The Greek coast guard vessel Ayios Efstratios, patrolling near the Turkish borders, rescued more than 300 people, including scores of children and babies, in under two hours from six rubber dinghies.

By early afternoon, more than 1,500 refugees and migrants had reached the eastern Aegean island, Reuters reported.

The number of new arrivals from Turkey spiked on Monday following days of gale force winds and freezing temperatures.

Over a million people fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have taken rickety boats across the Mediterranean to Europe since early last year.

Over 50,000 people have arrived in Greece in 2016, the United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, says.

Thousands have died trying to reach Europe, and on Monday alone at least 38 migrants, 11 of them children, drowned off Turkey's coasts in two separate tragedies as they tried to reach Greece's islands.

MEHWAR: Next Fighting Season Discussed

TOLO News - 8 hours 49 min ago

In this episode of Mehwar, host Muslim Shirzad discusses the issues and concerns around the upcoming fighting season with Shah Gul Rezaye, MP.

Click here to watch the whole program:

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FARAKHABAR: Solutions To Ending The War Discussed

TOLO News - 9 hours 31 min ago

The Afghan security forces are now battling the insurgents in three separate war fronts - Baghlan and Helmand and Kunduz, which also awaits a major military operation.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Weeks have passed since insurgents cut off the power supply to Kabul after they blew up a power pylon. But security forces fighting these insurgents - where they blew up transmission lines in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Baghlan - appear to be making little progress.

This also comes at the same time that Kabul city has been rocked by a spate of deadly attacks.

But, wherein lays the solution for ending the Afghanistan war? On the battlefields or with politicians around talks tables?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siavash discusses the topic with the following guests

• Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman to ministry of interior

• Asif Ashna, political analyst

 

U.S To Deploy Hundreds Of Troops To Helmand

TOLO News - 9 hours 47 min ago

Hundreds of additional US troops are slated to deploy to Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province to bolster the local military against a resurgent Taliban, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The newspaper reported that a force described as battalion-strength and consisting mostly of army soldiers, will arrive in the province by the end of the month.

Helmand has been the scene of heavy clashes between Afghan security forces and insurgents these past few months and the scene of numerous battles in the past ten years. U. S and British troops tried for years to drive out the Taliban in this province.

However, the Guardian reported that in keeping with the bilateral security agreement, U.S troops will not be there in a combat role but that they will help the existing Helmand troops to defend themselves against Taliban attacks.

According to the British newspaper, U.S military officials did not give specifics about the move but said the aim was to bolster the performance of the embattled 215th Corps of the Afghan military, through training.

Last week, outgoing commander of the U.S forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell testified to Congress that the 215th Corps recently had its commander replaced amid performance and corruption concerns, and has endured "unusually high operating tempo for long periods of time".

The 215th Corps is among four Afghan corps that still have US military advisers embedded within it, despite a recent pullback to advise at higher levels.

"Our mission remains the same," said Colonel Michael Lawhorn, a spokesman for the U.S command in Kabul, "to train, advise, and assist our Afghan counterparts, and not to participate in combat operations."

The Guardian went on to report that the additional forces in Helmand will not increase the current total troop numbers in Afghanistan, which stand at 9,800, but will instead be deployed from troops already in the country. Battalion strengths vary, but can constitute a force of up to 800 troops.

Opium-rich Helmand has emerged as a Taliban priority, as most of its 2015 attacks focused on the province. Unlike in the past, the Taliban declined to take a winter break and have fought in the province all year.

As such, the Taliban has come close to overrunning a district center in Helmand, Sangin, despite US airstrikes in late December. Kabul is said to control only three of Helmand's 14 districts, including the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, reported the Guardian.

Senior Taliban leader Mullah Rahmani Dies

TOLO News - 10 hours 6 min ago

A senior member of the Taliban leadership council Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani has died, the Taliban announced in a statement on Tuesday morning.

According to the statement, Rahmani died of cancer on Monday night.

The Taliban did not give further details or say where Rahmani died.

Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani was reportedly a close aide to the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and was among the Taliban leaders who had been involved in peace talks meetings last year - including the meeting held in Urumqi city of China last year.

News sources meanwhile report that Rahmani was reportedly one of the Taliban commanders who initially opposed the selection of Mullah Akhtar Mansour as the leader of the Taliban after the announcement of the death of Mullah Omar.

But reports later emerged that a compromise had been reached and Rahmani pledged allegiance to Mansour.

Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 3 in Northern Afghanistan

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - 10 hours 41 min ago
Explosives were detonated near an Afghan National Army minibus in Mazar-i-Sharif, which had until lately seemed almost immune to violence seen in other parts of Afghanistan.

TOLOnews 6pm News 08 February 2016

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 16:23

Top news in this Bulletin:

Embattled Afghan armed forces have conducted a major military operation against Taliban insurgents in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, eliminating a number of insurgents in the process and breaking their four day siege on an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in the volatile region in northern Afghanistan.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}QchBtDWB19I{/youtube}

Kabul city has been without power for 13 days - almost two weeks that Afghan security forces have been trying to push back Taliban militants from the area where they blew up a power pylon.

Three Wounded Army Comrades Share Their Ordeal

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 15:04

Three Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers who had their legs blown off during clashes with insurgents in Kunduz and Helmand provinces have spoken of their ordeals.

Sharing their stories on Monday, the three wounded veterans criticisized government, in particular the Ministry of Defense (MoD), for not tackling their problems despite them having sacrificed their legs for the sake of national sovereignty, independence and security of the nation.

Jawad is one of the wounded veterans who lost his legs during the battle of Kunduz. He is from Bamiyan province and was serving in 111 ANA unit. He accuses government of not paying his salary on time and says it has done nothing about his medical treatment.

"All wounded soldiers share similar issues at the ministry of defense which I have, but those who have relationships with military generals and lawmakers, they are provided the opportunity to pursue their medical treatment and their problems are settled. But no one is there to help those who do not have relationships, we are annoyed with the government," he said.

Nasir Ahmad is another soldier who lost his legs during the war and is now in an army hospital.

"Our problem is that government does not pay our salaries on time, we are still having medical treatment, no officials visit us and ask about our problems," Nasir Ahmad said.

The third wounded comrade is Ahmad who lost his two legs during a Taliban battle in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan. He also blasted government for not helping with his treatment.

"I lost my legs in Helmand in December, but no one is taking care of us now," he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry of defense has said that the government is making sure that the privileges and salaries of wounded soldiers are paid on the due date.

"I do not accept that salaries of the wounded veterans are not paid, if someone claims so, he must contact us to inquire why their privileges are not paid," Dawlat Waziri, spokesman to defense ministry said.

The wounded veterans also complained about the locally made prosthetic legs that they get.

Statistics show that currently up to 30 officers and soldiers who have lost their legs in the war are in a Kabul military hospital.

To watch the report, click here:

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Injured Suicide Blast Victim Dies

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:59

A 17-year-old boy wounded in last week's suicide bombing in Deh Mazang area in Kabul has died in hospital from his injuries.

The victim, Jalal, recently graduated from high school and was preparing for his university entrance exam.

Jalal's family said that he had wanted to become an engineer and to participate in Afghanistan's reconstruction. He was also an ardent cricket player and had recently been admitted to the Afghanistan Cricket Academy.

Jalal's family argues that the National Unity Government (NUG) must prevent terrorist attacks.

Jalal was wounded one week ago in a suicide attack on a Public Order and Border Forces base in Deh Mazang area of Kabul city.

"May God save my two other sons. Jalal was not just my son he was a friend to me and from childhood he was going with me to parties and he was like a prince," said Abdul Jalil Yousofzai Charkhi, Jalal's father.

"Jalal recently graduated from 12th class and he wanted to become an engineer. He was always saying that I am the future of Afghanistan and I will stay in Afghanistan and I will serve Afghanistan," said Jalal's brother.

"We were calling him Janan from lots of love and he was a good classmate to me and we graduated together. And we were playing cricket together and he was a best friend for me," said Zahid, Jalal's friend.

Jalal's cricket friends said that they have lost one of their best players.

"We call on the government to prevent such miseries," said Jalal's cousin Massoud.

Nine people were killed and 12 others were wounded in the February 1 suicide attack in Kabul city.

According to the MoI the incident occurred when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near the Public Order and Border Forces base in Deh Mazang area of Kabul city.

Most of the victims were civilians, the MoI said.

To watch the report, click here:

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No End In Sight For Kabul Power Outage

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:48

Kabul city has been without power for 13 days - almost two weeks that Afghan security forces have been trying to push back Taliban militants from the area where they blew up a power pylon.

Officials from Da Breshna Sherkat (DABS) said that they do not know when they will be able to rebuild the pylon.

"I don't know when the power will be restored. Security forces should specify the time when they will allow us to rebuild the pylon," said Wahidullah Tawhidi, spokesman for DABS.

He added that security forces have made no progress in the past 12 days in securing the area.

The Deputy Chief of Army Staff, General Murad Ali Murad, a few days ago assured people that power will be restored within two days.

This electricity outage has also inflicted losses for manufacturing companies.

"Production of oxygen is very important for hospitals and nitrogen is also important. However, the electricity outage has affected our activity," said Fahim, a worker at Maihandost oxygen manufacturing plant.

To watch the full report click below:

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Taliban Sustain Heavy Casualty Toll In Baghlan

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:44

Embattled Afghan armed forces have conducted a major military operation against Taliban insurgents in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, eliminating a number of insurgents in the process and breaking their four day siege on an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in the volatile region in northern Afghanistan.

Reports from the warfront reveal that the insurgents kept the base under their siege for four days in their attempt to capture the soldiers alive, but they did not succeed and instead faced strong retaliation from the besieged soldiers.

The troops who foiled the Taliban's attempt to capture the base have said they continued resisting Taliban attacks despite the insurgents' calls to them to surrender.

"We remained under Taliban siege for four days, they asked us to surrender, but we said that you (Taliban) are the slaves of Pakistan and we will never surrender to you," Matiullah, an ANA soldier who resisted Taliban during the siege said.

"Taliban kept the base under siege for four days, they made several attempts to capture us and asked us to surrender, but failed," another soldier Mohammad Musa said.

Security commanders in the area have said that the army inflicted heavy casualties to the Taliban in the battlefield.

"The area came under siege and we launched a joint operation and broke the siege," Lieutenant Colonel Ziauddin, commander of the first battalion of the ANA said.

"All personnel of the commando, police and national security are in good spirits. The commandos assure the entire people of Baghlan to stay alongside them until current issues are resolved," Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Ali Yazdani said.

Referring to human casualties among the Taliban, Abdul Rashid Bashir, security in-charge of Baghlan police department said that so far in the operation, seven Taliban have been killed and scores more wounded including the group's shadow district governor for Baghlan-e-Markazi.

"Taliban's shadow governor in Baghlan-e-Markazi and his nine companions were wounded in the operation and seven others were killed. Mangal village in the area has been cleared of Taliban," he said.

Lawmakers Concerned Over Illegal Extraction Of Mines In Badakhshan

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:32

Lawmakers from Badakhshan province said that the commander of an illegal armed group removed security troops responsible for the safety of a lapis lazuli mine out of Kiran-wa-Manjan district of the province in early 2014 and captured the mine.

The lawmakers said that the commander and his armed men are illegally extracting the lapis lazuli and then transfer the stones through Anjuman-Parian pass and Panjsher province to Kabul.

They said that the commander has brought two Taliban commanders to the district and currently half of the profits the mine makes go towards supporting the Taliban.

"The commander had only 10 to 20 people and captured the mine. He is unprofessional and is senselessly extracting the mine and now he has 200 people," said Abdul Raouf Enami, secretary of Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament).

The lawmaker lashed out at the government for its failure to ensure the security of mines and said that elements inside the government are supporting smugglers of mines.

"No doubt that elements inside the government are supporting these individuals," said Enami, adding that proving these allegations needs time.

"When the National Unity Government was established people hoped that the mine will be taken from the strongmen. Unfortunately, 60 percent of the revenue of the mine fills the Taliban's pockets," said Jawed Mujadidi, a member of Badakhshan provincial council.

"If they don't have supporters inside the government, then what is the reason that they loot mines and the government is doing nothing to stop them," he added.

Currently, the Taliban and illegal armed groups are extracting mines in different provinces of Afghanistan.

"It is the duty of law enforcement organizations to ensure the security of mines and prevent their illegal extraction and our duty is to pave the ground for legal extraction and awarding contracts of the mines that in terms of security are safe to extract," said Mohiuddin Noori, spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), said that the criminal investigation institutions of the ministry are working to prevent smuggling of precious stones and illegal extraction of mines.

Ebrahim Jafari, a member of the Natural Resources Monitoring Network said that the Taliban has access to most of the natural resources in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers, said that currently a number of residents in the district have stood against the illegal armed group and taken up positions in the mountains of the district and have asked the commander to remove the Taliban.

To watch the report, click here:

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New ANSA Head Vows To Fight Corruption

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:23

The newly appointed head of the Afghanistan National Standard Authority (ANSA), Naqibullah Faiq, who assumed office on Monday, vowed to prevent the import of substandard fuel to Afghanistan and to fight corruption.

He termed scarcity of professional people and lack of political support to the organization as the main reasons behind the importation of low quality fuel. He stressed that the low quality oil, like terrorism, is a killer of Afghans.

"The ANSA has failed to perform all its duties in the past. It doesn't have political support," Faiq said. He pledged to fight against corruption in the organization.

Meanwhile, the former head of the ANSA, Popalzai Popal, said they were faced with numerous challenges in implementing standards.

"We managed to set standards and lay foundations for norms and now the ground for monitoring on import of fuel oil, construction materials and food is paved and I hope that the new leadership of the ANSA will make advancement in the implementation of these standards," he added.

Due to widespread corruption and lack of standards, most of the foods and fuel that are being imported from neighboring countries are of low quality.

Religious Scholars In Helmand's Garmser Pledge Support To Security Forces

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:19

Religious scholars at a gathering in Garmser district of southern Helmand province pledged their support to government and especially to security forces.

They said that Ulema can play an effective role in bringing about security. They pledged to work to bridge the gap between people and government.

Hundreds of people and religious scholars from the district gathered in the administrative building of Garmser to put their weight behind the National Unity Government (NUG), particularly security forces.

"We lend our support to government. Ulema's role in bringing security and bridging the gap between people and government can be effective and we will play this role," said Abdullah, a religious scholar.

Garmser district chief, Ayub Omar, said that mounting insecurity and widespread unemployment have widened the gap between people and government.

"Religious scholars are respected people in a society," he added. Omar urged Ulema to cooperate in bringing government and people closer.

Participants at the gathering pledged to bridge the gap between government and people and they urged all Afghans to join them.

Nangarhar Residents Stage Protest Against Mounting Insecurity

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 14:15

A number of tribal elders and residents of eastern Nangarhar province staged a protest in Kabul to highlight the growing insecurity in their province.

The protestors said that Daesh militants in their areas are preparing for war and if the government does not take action in time, Nangarhar will collapse.

"Daesh fighters are preparing for war. People have left their homes and the rebels are living in the evacuated houses and the government hasn't taken any action against them so far," said Azizullah Shinwari, head of the Shinwari tribal council.

Another tribal elder said that they don't have schools, madrassas and their hospitals are closed. "Our children are collecting waste paper and they will remain illiterate," he added.

The protestors accused government of turning a blind eye towards their problems.

"When General Waziri (spokesman for the Ministry of Defense) visits the province he travels through the province with a large number of tanks and then says everything is fine," said a resident of the province.

Aref Shinwari, a tribal elder, said the leaders of the NUG— President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah— should resign, if they are not able to ensure the safety of the people.

Daesh fighters have a widespread presence in Nangarhar and are conducting offensives against Afghan security forces in the province.

However the fighters are frequently targeted in airstrikes by foreign troops in the province. The protestors threatened that large swathes of land in the province will fall to Daesh if they are not eliminated.

MoD Vows Severe Response to Taliban As Rumors Surface Over Fall of Sangin

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 13:52

Reports from volatile Sangin district of Helmand province indicate that the Afghan security forces are locked in an intense battle with insurgents in the strategic town.

Residents say that troops are battling the Taliban in a bid to keep the district from falling to the Taliban militants.

While Taliban's insurgency in Sangin shows no sign of ending, Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Helmand officials have dismissed rumors over the collapse of the town to the Taliban, reaffirming their determination to thwart a Taliban attempt to seize control of the district.

But several calls by Afghan national army officers in Sangin have been made in recent days in which they warned of a chance the city would fall to the militants, asking central government to dispatch reinforcements so that the siege of security bases are broken.

Meanwhile, members of Helmand provincial council have also confirmed the siege of several security check posts by Taliban amid speculations over the issue.

"Security situations are tense in Sangin. The people do not have a peaceful life and freedom, our security forces are coping with enormous hardships. In some areas, the security forces are under siege," secretary of Helmand provincial council Attaullah Afghan said.

While concerns over the siege of security forces by the Taliban grow, the Ministry of Defense and government officials in Helmand describe the ongoing scene in Helmand from a different perspective.

"Attacks had been launched against Sangin, but our security forces are defending their trenches and bases with courage and determination and there are no serious issues in Sangin to be concerned about," Helmand governor, Mirza Khan Rahimi said.

But, governor's assertions are in complete contradiction to the statements of ANA officers in Sangin.

"The armed services at the ministry of defense are completely aware of the situation. Security forces in Sangin have our full support, units go there and supplies reach the area. Efforts continue to eliminate insurgents in Sangin," Dawlat Waziri, a defense ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The key district of Sangin was once a Taliban stronghold and has been the scene of intense battles between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban over the past three months. Although, the Afghan forces launched several operations aimed at clearing the town of the militants, the presence of the insurgents in the area is still visible.

It is said that the security forces so far have not been able to retake the Babaji area of Lashkargah city, center of the province from the militants.

Govt Should Improve War Management Tactics: Analysts

TOLO News - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:52

A number of security analysts have said the government has failed in terms of war management and said that a change in strategy is desperately needed.

Conflicts have intensified after the establishment of the National Unity Government (NUG) and the next fighting season is already being deemed a game changer for the survival of Afghanistan, say analysts. ‎

They believe that the mismanagement of fighting has also had a negative impact on the morale of security troops.

"War has not been properly managed, although we have individuals, who can be utilized in managing war. Government should work seriously to overcome this problem," said Merza Mohammad Yarmand, the former deputy Minister of Interior.

Meanwhile, security forces should overcome many challenges during this fighting season.

"We should move away from being on the defensive and should act offensively. Challenges faced in 2015 should be identified and we should increase our armored equipment," said Mirdad Nejrabi, head of the Internal Security Commission of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament).

However, the new attack helicopters, that Afghanistan recently received from India, are believed to give an upper hand to the Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban.

"We have all the preparations for the next fighting season. Our security troops are trained and our air force has received new helicopters which will be helpful in the elimination of militants," said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Security analysts believe that unless the intelligence lapses, lack of coordination among security forces and mismanagement of war are addressed during the next fighting season, the security situation in Afghanistan will further deteriorate.

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