Aggregated News about Afghanistan

Security Forces Need Proper Management: Massoud

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 11:45

The President's Special on Reform and Good Governance Ahmad Zia Massoud on Friday visited northern Kunduz province where he spoke out about the leadership of Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and said the forces lack proper management and leadership – in the war against terrorism.

He praised the forces for their bravery and resistance against terrorists on the battlegrounds and said they are capable of defeating insurgents on condition that there is good leadership for forces.

Massoud said softening towards insurgents will be a type of cruelty towards the people and that Afghan security forces should not be flexible towards terrorists.

He also said the security forces should act against terrorists from a strong and powerful stance.

"War against terrorism is our national duty. Those who act against Afghanistan's national interests should be eliminated," he told a gathering attended by Kunduz high ranking officials.

Massoud said the Afghan security forces need successful and proper leadership to fight terrorism and ensure the country's security.

Referring to his recent comments on the formation of a 'Resistance Council', he said that he will bring former mujahideen leaders together in Kunduz and other northern provinces in order to boost the country's security.

Massoud said terrorist groups have no political future in Afghanistan. "They are here to kill the people and destabilize the country," he added.

In conclusion he said their biggest responsibility in the near future is to bring the people and former mujahideen leaders together in a bid to help the security forces in the war on terror and to ensure countrywide security.

Areas Cleared Of Militants In Baghlan-e-Markazi District

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 11:37

Security officials in Baghlan said Friday that two villages in Baghlan-e-Markazi district in the province were cleared of militants in a military operation carried out by security forces on Thursday night.

Acting police chief for Baghlan, Abdul Rashid Bashir, said at least 27 militants were killed and 24 others wounded in the operation.

"The areas of Kokina and Qaisar Khel were cleared of militants in last night's [Thursday night] military operation and now the areas are under full control of security forces," he added.

Meanwhile, local residents said they are happy that their areas came under control of Afghan security forces.

"The security forces came to our area and took full control. Now all the people can roam here freely," said Haji Mir Jan, a resident of Baghlan-e-Markazi district.

The areas were captured by the Taliban after they attacked local police check posts a few days ago.

Russia PM Warns Foreign Offensive In Syria Could Spark 'World War'

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 06:53

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that if Arab forces entered the Syrian war they could spark a "new world war" and urged ceasefire talks instead.

Asked about proposals by some Arab countries to enter the conflict under a US command, Medvedev said, "that would be bad because ground offensives usually lead to wars becoming permanent".

"The Americans and our Arabic partners must think hard about this: do they want a permanent war?" he was quoted as telling the German Handelsblatt business daily in an interview.

"Do they really think they would win such a war very quickly? That's impossible, especially in the Arabic world. There everyone is fighting against everyone... everything is far more complicated. It could take years or decades."

"Why is that necessary?" he added, according to a pre-released excerpt from the daily's Friday edition. "All sides must be forced to the negotiating table instead of sparking a new world war."

TOLOnews 10pm News 11 February 2016

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 06:37

Top news in this Bulletin:

The U.S State Department has proposed $3.4 billion USD for Afghanistan and Pakistan in its draft budget for 2017 as part of an increase in its financial support to Kabul.

Click below to watch full bulletin:

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An Afghan woman has been flogged in public in Kohistanat district of Sar-e-Pul province after being accused of leaving her house with a strange man.

MEHWAR: U.S Decision To Increase Financial Assistance Reviewed

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 06:04

In this episode of Mehwar, host Haris Jamalzada discusses the United States' plan to increase its financial assistance to Afghanistan.

He discusses the issue with Idris Rahmani, a researcher in international affairs.

Click below to watch full episode:

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MEHWAR: Violence Against Women In Afghanistan Discussed

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:55

In this episode of Mehwar, Haris Jamalzada reviews the recent increase in violence against women in Afghanistan.

With him in the studio is MP Simin Barikzai.

Click below to watch full episode:

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TAWDE KHABARE: Special Rep's Criticism On Govt's Counter Terrorism Policy Discussed

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:49

In a recent visit to Takhar province, President Ashraf Ghani's Special Representative on Reform and Good Governance, Ahmad Ziad Massoud, criticized government's policy against insurgents and said there is no clear plan to suppress terrorists in Afghanistan.

During his speech, he emphasized the need to establish a 'Resistance Council' comprised of former mujahedeen leaders in order to help Afghan security forces in ensuring county wide security.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabih Sadat discusses the issue with following guests:

• Shiwa Sharq, analyst in political affairs

• Abdul Qader Zazai Watandost, MP

• Asif Baktash, analyst in political affairs

Click below to watch full episode:

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U.S Forces Ramp Up Efforts On Two Fronts: Pentagon

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:46

The United States is ramping up efforts on two fronts in Afghanistan - increasing air strikes against Daesh fighters in the country's east while providing more advisers to Afghan troops fighting the Taliban in the country's south.

Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a spokesman for U.S forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon via videoconference from Kabul on Thursday that the U.S estimates there are now between 1,000 and 3,000 Islamic State-Khorasan (Daesh) fighters in Afghanistan. Daesh has designated Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Iran as its so-called "Khorasan" province.

Most fighters pledging allegiance to Daesh-Khorasan are in four or five districts in the southern part of Nangarhar province, where Shoffner says he's seen them trying to "establish a base."

Nangarhar province borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, allowing Daesh-Khorasan to recruit both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban, or TTP.

"The change in authorities has given us additional flexibility," Shoffner said.

In addition to more strikes in the east, Shoffner said the U.S military is increasing its footprint in Helmand province.

"We are increasing our advising effort in Helmand province," Shoffner said.

"We are also ... positioning soldiers to provide force protection," he added.

The repositioning of U.S forces in Helmand will not affect the overall number of U.S troops on the ground in Afghanistan, which remains at about 9,800.

FARAKHABAR: Govt Fails To Reconnect Kabul's Electricity

TOLO News - Fri, 02/12/2016 - 05:39

Insurgents recently disrupted the electricity supply from Tajikistan to Kabul leaving the capital in the dark.

According to local officials, militants again on Thursday destroyed two circuits of power in Kunduz and a power pylon in Baghlan that both connect the lines that carry electricity from Tajikistan to Kabul.

With this disruption, Kabul lost all the imported electricity both from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan but government has failed to re-install the power pylons in Baghlan and reconnect electricity to the capital city.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Fawad Aman discusses the issue with following guests:

• Sayed Massoud, university lecturer

• Gul Rahman Raihan, a civil society activist in Baghlan

• Abdul Satar Briz, Baghlan governor – via Skype

Click below to watch full episode:

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TOLOnews 6pm News 11 February 2016

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 14:54

Top news in this Bulletin:

The U.S State Department has proposed $3.4 billion USD for Afghanistan and Pakistan in its draft budget for 2017 as part of an increase in its financial support to Kabul.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}GCB03ycJfpM{/youtube}

An Afghan woman has been flogged in public in Kohistanat district of Sar-e-Pul province after being accused of leaving her house with a strange man.

Success On The Battle Field And In Politics Will Be Ours: Ghani

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 14:09

Speaking at the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) readiness performance program on Thursday, President Ashraf Ghani said that success on the battle fields and in politics will be achieved by the Afghanistan government.

"The peace message is clear - but peace with dignity and in protecting the rights of citizens. ‎We will achieve peace on both the battle field and the political field," said Ghani.

Meanwhile Ghani called for the continuation of investments in the country's air sector and said that those who will not accept peace will be marginalized.

Ghani also spoke about rebuilding of the country's air force by way of getting new equipment.

"Today the first instruments of the air force will be shown to you and the remaining instruments are ahead of us," said Ghani.

Recently US delivered four Super Tucano attack planes to Afghan Forces and it is expected that 16 other attack aircrafts will be delivered soon to Afghan Air Forces (AAF).

"The technology used in F16 has been also used in Tucano aircrafts and the aircrafts are able to day and night conduct attacks from the air," said Abdul Wahab Wardak an air force commander.

Ghani once again assured people that their hope for security will be changed to a reality.

"Our citizen's hope is security, stability and living with prosperity, which will be achieved," said Ghani.

Ghani assured government forces that their sacrifices will not be ignored in the political field.

Seven Radio Stations Go Off Air: Nai

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 14:06

Seven FM radio stations from across the country have closed down due to security threats or financial problems, said Nai (Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan) on Thursday.

The organization urged the government and international community to support media organizations and journalists.

On the eve of World Radio Day, Nai expressed its deep concerns over challenges faced by radio stations in Afghanistan.

"According to our information, there are 175 radio stations in Afghanistan. Seven of these radio stations, over the past few years, have closed down for different reasons," said Sediqullah Tawhidi, director of Nai.

Based on a survey conducted by Nai, most of the radio stations have termed security threats and financial problems as the main reason for their closure.

Lack of female and professional workers and a lack of access to information were listed as other problems faced by radio stations in Afghanistan.

"Radio stations in Afghanistan are active in different parts of the country. They are active in dangerous areas and in remote provinces. Their activities are very effective in both raising awareness and giving information," said Tawhidi. He added that radio stations in Afghanistan will face severe challenges, if they are not supported.

The Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) confirmed that radio stations in Afghanistan are faced with numerous challenges. However, it said efforts are underway to solve the problems faced by journalists.

Haroon Hakimi, spokesman for the (MoIC), said that the ministry and government are committed to support media organizations and journalists.

This comes at a time that Afghanistan is considered as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

U.S To Increase Financial Support To Afghanistan

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 14:02

The U.S State Department has proposed $3.4 billion USD for Afghanistan and Pakistan in its draft budget for 2017 as part of an increase in its financial support to Kabul.

According to the U.S Department of State, the reason behind the increase in its financial help to Afghanistan is to show Washington's commitment for its promises it has made regarding Kabul.

In a briefing on President Barack Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for the U.S Department of State and USAID, Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, said: "The budget calls for assistance and operations funding of $2.5 billion for Afghanistan and nearly $860 million for Pakistan to sustain our commitment to both countries, including in the fight against violent extremists."

She said: "I'll just highlight a few of our budget priorities. Our request seeks to advance security and confront new threats around the globe, including resources to fight the extremist groups of today and to prevent new terrorist organizations from gaining strength in the future. It includes $4.1 billion to degrade and destroy ISIL (Daesh), intensifying pressure against the group while bolstering our partners. The funds will also help stabilize communities liberated from ISIL, assist those who have fled the conflict, and discredit terrorist propaganda."

According to her, the budget will be spent on fostering and sustaining the development progress all over the world, helping to prevent, mitigate, and respond to humanitarian crises, supporting with U.S partners at state and other agencies of addressing threats to national security and global stability.

Moreover, the U.S State Department said the budget will be spent on training programs, fight against corruption, supporting the civil society and healthcare campaigns as well as good governance in Afghanistan.

NATO Vows To Continue Its Train, Advise, Assist Mission In Afghanistan

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 13:57

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday that although NATO's combat mission in Afghanistan has come to an end, the organization will continue to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.

NATO Defence Ministers in a two-day meeting in Brussels discussed the current situation around the globe.

Stoltenberg said that NATO is committed to bringing about stability to Afghanistan.

"For instance in Afghanistan, which is also connected to this fight, where we have ended our combat operation but where NATO continues to train, assist and advise the Afghan forces to enable them to fight terror and to stabilize their own country," he added.

He said that training of Afghan security forces is a good option towards stability in Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg went on to say: "So this thinking of training local forces, projecting stability without deploying our own combat forces I very much believe in the long run is a more sustainable solution and a path we should follow."

NATO currently has some 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, who despite train, advise and assist mission, also undertake counter-terrorism missions.

Taliban Lashes Afghan Woman After Being Out With Relative

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 13:54

An Afghan woman has been flogged in public in Kohistanat district of Sar-e-Pul province after being accused of leaving her house with a strange man.

Video footage handed over to TOLOnews shows the woman being flogged by Taliban militants in the once peaceful district.

This is the second such video to emerge in only a few days. The previous incident took place earlier this week when a Faryab woman was subjected to a public lashing after being accused of having a phone conversation with a strange man.

In the latest incident, the Taliban militants accused the woman of traveling with a strange man. However, these claims have been rejected by officials who said she had been with her brother-in-law.

Accusing the woman of going against Islamic values, the Taliban meted out a public lashing against both woman and man.

Local officials in Sar-e-Pul have confirmed the incident but said no one has officially filed a complaint against the Taliban.

A resident of Sar-e-Pul province who sent in the video to TOLOnews said that the Taliban lashed the woman and her brother-in-law after they were on their way to a doctor.

The video shows the woman constantly pleading with the Taliban to stop - saying her husband had not been home and she had needed to see a doctor.

"Oh Allah (God) help me, please do not beat me," the women chants in the video footage.

Insurgents have reportedly controlled Kohistanat district for the past four months.

"Kohistanat is one of the districts which is controlled by the Taliban. We were also informed about the incident and this will not be the first nor the last of such crimes," Sar-e-Pul governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat said.

Rights groups and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) have condemned the act of violence against the woman, calling it an act of atrocity and against Sharia (Islamic law).

"The Independent Human Rights Commission condemns such open trials as they are in contradiction to Sharia law and other laws," said AIHRC spokesman Rafiullah Bedar.

Violence against women has increased in the country this year with the Sar-e-Pul incident being the second of its kind in just one week.

Insurgents Disrupt Power From Tajikistan To Kabul

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 13:48

Officials from Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) in northern Baghlan province said Thursday insurgents have blown up another pylon and destroyed circuits in Baghaln and Kunduz respectively.

This time the power from Tajikistan to Kabul has been disrupted.

This comes after the recent blast that targeted a pylon in Dand-e-Shahabuddin in Baghlan.

Head of DABS for Baghlan province, Ghulam Hussain, said that insurgents are behind the attacks. However, work to restore the electricity supply has been started, he said.

According to him, electricity to the capital should be restored Thursday.

He said that the attack in Kunduz was against circuits only. "The power has not been cut in the pylon, however, the enemies of Afghanistan have cut two circuits of electricity in Kunduz province," he added.

But a number of security troops near the Kunduz pylon said that a pylon was destroyed in several stages.

"It was night that we heard the sound of an explosion. It was dark, so we could not find the scene of the explosion. When we came in the morning we saw that two pylons had been destroyed. We called the provincial governor's office and they said that they will take action, but they didn't take any action. Two nights later, there was another explosion and the remaining part of the pylon was destroyed," said Hafizullah, an army officer in Baghlan.

Just over two weeks ago, the Taliban blew up a pylon in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Baghlan province and suspended the transmission of electricity from Uzbekistan to Kabul.

With the latest attacks on power lines in Kunduz, Kabul has lost all supply of imported power.

TOLOnews 10pm News 10 February 2016

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 08:25

Top news in this Bulletin:

U.S National Intelligence Director, James R. Clapper, in an address to his country's Senate warned that Afghanistan is faced with the risk of a political breakdown in this year.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}Odtc3tVIhns{/youtube}

Amidst reports of the return of hundreds of American troops to help Afghan security forces in Helmand, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Wednesday said the U.S soldiers' cooperation with Afghan forces on the battlefield is crucial.

Iran Seeks Tourism Millions As Nuclear Chill Ends

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 07:59

Long seen as a destination strewn with shortcomings, Iran is making a fresh pitch for tourists, with the recent lifting of economic sanctions providing an opportunity to cash in.

The tourism industry has been overlooked by successive governments in Tehran but the deal Iran struck with world powers over its nuclear program last summer could change that.

Along with nine companions including Americans and Germans, China-based Frenchman Yannick Lequelenec said he aims to make "one unique journey" every year. For 2016, he chose Iran.

"My family told me I was crazy, but people have been welcoming and very friendly," he said in Tehran of his one-week trip taken over the Chinese New Year holidays.

Tourists, and the healthy revenues they could generate, are among the huge economic changes stemming from the nuclear deal.

Ski resorts, UNESCO-listed world heritage sites and deserts combine with cities steeped in Middle Eastern grandeur and tradition.

A tourism push was launched after President Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013, ending the hardline era of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during which Iran's international isolation deepened.

Entry procedures have been simplified, meaning visitors from only 11 countries are not eligible for a visa on arrival.

The United States, Britain, Canada and France top the exclusion list but some people will not be put off by the restrictions.

"The first thing we did was to go skiing in Tochal," said Rachel Punter, a 41-year-old British teacher based in Shanghai who was among Lequelenec's group.

The ski resort is one of several close to the capital. That outing was followed by trips to Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd, cities considered much more beautiful and relaxed than Tehran.

Among the popular sites in Isfahan is Imam Square, second in size only to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but with water fountains and impressive architecture the Iranian site is much more attractive.

For Rouhani, tourism offers a way to offset falling oil prices that have slashed government income. The goal is 20 million tourists annually by 2025 which would provide $30 billion USD a year, a five-fold increase in current revenues from foreign visitors.

It comes as tourists shun many parts of the Middle East because of war and a recent wave of jihadist attacks in countries including Egypt and Tunisia.

International credit and debit cards still do not work in Iran, but arriving with foreign currency and converting it into a large bundle of local rial notes does not seem a handicap.

There have been 4.16 million visitors in the first nine months of the Iranian year, which started in March 2015, up five percent from a year earlier, according to the tourism ministry.

Two thirds of them come from neighbouring countries, such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Afghanistan or Pakistan, predominantly religious pilgrims visiting the holy Shiite cities of Mashhad, northeast of Tehran, and Qom, south of the capital.

Western tourists currently number only five percent but the trend is upward, according to Ebrahim Pourfaraj, head of Pasargad Tour Agency and president of the Association of Iranian Tour Operators.

"For tourists, the sense of security and peace is very important. The nuclear deal and the trips of President Hassan Rouhani to Italy and France have reinforced this phenomenon," he said.

Washington Adds Al-Qaeda Leader In Afghanistan To Terrorist List

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 07:38

The U.S Treasury Department on Wednesday added Nayf Salam Muhammad Ujaym al-Hababi, a senior al-Qaeda leader reportedly based in Afghanistan, to the US government's list of specially designated global terrorists.

The order - Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) - targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

In a statement issued by the Treasury Department, it said they targeted al-Hababi for his activities and for his leadership role in the organization, for planning attacks against U.S and Coalition forces in Afghanistan, for assisting in plots against the West and for fundraising on al-Qaeda's behalf.

As a result of Wednesday's move any property or interest in property of al-Hababi within U.S jurisdiction is frozen. Additionally, transactions by U.S persons involving al-Hababi are generally prohibited.

Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in the treasury's statement: "Al-Hababi has a long history of directing deadly attacks against U.S forces and our Coalition allies in Afghanistan, along with plotting al-Qaeda terrorist operations in the United States and around the world."

"To both protect the American people and support our Afghan allies in their quest for peace and stability, Treasury will continue to aggressively target al-Qaeda leaders such as al-Hababi for their roles in planning and financing terrorism," he added.

According to U.S documents, al-Hababi has operated in Afghanistan since at least 2009 and was serving as the al-Qaeda emir for the Eastern Zone of Afghanistan from 2015. He has reportedly led an al-Qaeda battalion in Afghanistan since at least mid-2010 and as of mid-2015 was responsible for finding a new sanctuary for al-Qaeda. For several years, al-Hababi has been in charge of al-Qaeda-sponsored training in northeast Afghanistan, providing training and funds to militants to conduct operations.

The statement reported that al-Hababi has been involved in raising funds and authorizing spending on behalf of al-Qaeda since 2010.

"As of 2015, al-Hababi directed the delivery of funds and weapons to Taliban associates in Afghanistan for use in future attacks. As of 2012, al-Hababi solicited funds from supporters in Gulf countries to support al-Qaeda's external operations and also expected to receive funds from Gulf-based donors for activities in Afghanistan. Furthermore, as of 2010, al-Hababi directed the purchase of weapons, including rocket propelled grenades, to distribute to militants in Afghanistan," read the statement.

On the issue of attack planning, the U.S states that between 2012 and 2015, al-Hababi planned and provided support for al-Qaeda attacks against U.S and Coalition forces in Afghanistan and helped plan al-Qaeda's external operations.

"As of 2015, al-Hababi worked on attack plans for fighting in northeast Afghanistan. In early 2013, al-Hababi and his battalion intended to take control of Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and establish a base to launch external operations on behalf of al-Qaeda," read the statement.

It went on to say that in revenge for the deaths of senior al-Qaeda leaders, al-Hababi planned to carry out attacks in the West, including in the United States and other Western countries.

"As of 2012, suicide bombers affiliated with al-Hababi were tasked to attack Afghan bases and Coalition convoys in Afghanistan. As of 2011, al-Hababi was a senior al-Qaeda member consulting on al-Qaeda operations worldwide. In 2010, al-Hababi participated in two attacks against Coalition Forces convoys, and he led operations in northeast Afghanistan that included attacks against U.S military bases in 2009."

11 Insurgents Renounce Violence in Herat

TOLO News - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 07:08

At least 11 insurgents including their commander surrendered their weapons and joined the peace process in western Herat province, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Thursday.

The statement said that the men with their commander Mullah Mohammad Hussian surrendered with their weapons on Wednesday in the province.

The group had been fighting government forces in the province but promised to cooperate with the security forces and try for peace, according to the statement.

The statement did not provide more details.

This comes as insurgents recently increased their activities around Afghanistan and frequently attack security forces.

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